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Suit settled claiming discrimination against Burmese

Statement as issued Oct. 2:

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced today that it has reached a Conciliation Agreement with the Lancaster, PA-based Ecklin Group that will end an alleged policy of refusing to rent to Burmese refugee families.

The agreement is the result of a complaint HUD initiated against the Group after company staff allegedly failed to renew the leases of three Burmese families because of their national origin, and made statements to various people that the group would no longer accept rental referrals for refugees that were referred by Lutheran Refugee Services.

The company denied the allegation.

The Fair Housing Act makes it unlawful to deny housing or impose different rental terms and conditions based on disability, race, national origin, color, religion, sex, or familial status.

“America’s protection of refugees fleeing persecution from abroad includes ensuring protection against housing discrimination here,” said John Trasviña, HUD’s Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity. “HUD will continue to take action against housing providers that unlawfully deny housing to families because of their national origin.”

Three Burmese families were notified by the company that their leases were not being renewed because of alleged lease violations. HUD’s investigation showed that only the Burmese tenants received lease non-renewal letters, even though the company had similar concerns about other tenants. In addition, housing staff at the company told Lutheran Children and Family Services representatives and HUD investigators that the company would no longer rent to refugees.

Under the terms of the agreement, the company will donate $12,000 to Lutheran Refugee Services, provide fair housing training for all its employees, and include the phrase “Equal Housing Opportunity” or the fair housing logo in all newspaper and other rental advertisements.

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