The Alexander County Housing Authority and its four past directors were hit with a federal class-action lawsuit Tuesday by residents who claim they have faced “rampant race discrimination and family status discrimination” as well as “substantial rent overcharges.”
The lawsuit claims the southern Illinois housing authority has “engaged in a pattern and practice of segregating its public housing developments by race” and has inadequately maintained two developments, in which the vast majority of residents are African American. The complaint says the two developments, located in Cairo, have mice, roach and bedbug infestations and inadequate security.
On the other hand, ACHA’s Connell Smith development, which has more white tenants, has been maintained and secured adequately, the lawsuit claims.
The suit further alleges “family status” discrimination by the agency.
“ACHA has refused to place families with children in certain public housing developments, such as Connell Smith, in order to prevent African-American families from living in majority white public housing developments,” the suit says.
Additionally, the lawsuit alleges residents in many instances have faced rent overcharges between $100 and $200.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development took over ACHA back in February. HUD’s move came in response to what it described as a “years-long pattern of financial and operational mismanagement, poor housing conditions, and alleged civil rights violations against the households the housing authority was responsible for assisting.”
Despite the government takeover, liability still falls on ACHA, according to federal law.