The U.S. Justice Department says the owner of a Summerville apartment complex has agreed to pay $25,000 to settle a lawsuit involving violations of the Fair Housing Act. John Wingard Altman owns Altman Apartments, a 16-unit complex he owns on Central Avenue.
In July, the court, ruling on a motion filed by the government, found that Altman had violated the Fair Housing Act by discriminating against families with children.
Under the consent order, which was approved Tuesday by the U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina, Altman must pay $15,000 to two people who were harmed by his discriminatory practices and $10,000 to the United States as a civil penalty. In addition, the order prohibits him from engaging in discrimination against families with children in the future and requires that he adopt a non-discrimination policy in addition to receiving training on the Fair Housing Act.
“The Fair Housing Act protects families with children against housing discrimination,” Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division said in a statement. “Providing an equal opportunity for families with children to access housing without discrimination is required by law critical and we will vigorously enforce the law to ensure all families have access to housing.”
A lawsuit filed in September 2011 alleged that Altman, through published advertisements and statements to testers, maintained a policy or practice of discouraging families with children from living in the apartment complex. Testers are individuals who pose as renters to gather information about possible discriminatory practices. The evidence in this case was obtained by the department’s Fair Housing Testing Program.
Tripp Girardeau contributed to this report