Town sued for allegedly keeping out Black residents
By Victoria Cavaliere
A small Connecticut town is being sued for allegedly discriminating against minorities in an effort to keep its Black population “so low that it does not register above zero percent,” according to a federal complaint.
The town of Winchester “systematically and unlawfully” works to keep out African-American families by denying access to federal housing vouchers known as Section 8, according to a lawsuit brought by the Connecticut Fair Housing Center and plaintiff Crystal Carter.
“We are challenging a pattern of denying minorities fair access to housing,” said Greg Kirschner, staff attorney for the Connecticut Fair Housing Center.
Carter, a single mom of six children, joined the lawsuit after she was allegedly told by the Winchester Housing Authority (WHA) that she was ineligible to apply for Section 8 housing in the town because she was not already a resident.
The WHA also told Carter “that Winchester was not on a ‘bus line,’ there were no real jobs there, and it was in the ‘woods,’” Courthouse News Ser-vice reported.
According to census data, 94.4 percent of Winchester’s 11,000 residents are white and 4.5 percent are Hispanic. The number of African-American residents is “statistically zero,” according to the complaint.
The lawsuit claims the WHA is keeping minorities out by enforcing a “residency requirement” for those wishing to apply for Section 8 vouchers in its 17 communities.
Kirschner says the practice violates Section 8 guidelines.
“These requirements are un-lawful because in communities with populations that are disproportionately white and or/non-Hispanic they perpetuate segregation by excluding minority applicants who live out-side those communities from obtaining housing here,” the law-suit states.
Officials at the WHA could not be reached for comment. The agency’s website said its mission is to “provide, without any type of discrimination; decent, safe, affordable housing and a sustainable living environment.”
The Connecticut Fair Housing Center filed the lawsuit last week and is seeking both a policy change and punitive damages.