Connecticut Town Keeps Out Black Families With Section 8 Catch

The town of Winchester has a pattern of denying federal housing vouchers to minorities, claims a lawsuit against the town's Housing Authority.

Posted: 08/08/2012 11:56 AM EDT

In a blast from the Jim Crow past, a Connecticut town is being accused of “systematically and unlawfully discriminating against African-Americans and Hispanics,” according to a lawsuit brought by the Connecticut Fair Housing Center and plaintiff Crystal Carter.

The lawsuit filed last week intends to challenge the town of Winchester’s pattern of denying minorities fair access to housing, Greg Kirschner, staff attorney for the Connecticut Fair Housing Center, told the New York Daily News.

The Winchester Housing Authority allegedly keeps out minority families by denying them access to federal housing vouchers known as Section 8, the lawsuit claims.

A residency requirement enforced by WHA requires voucher applicants to already be residing in one of 17 Connecticut towns, all of which are more than 91 percent white, reports the Huffington Post.

"These requirements are unlawful because in communities with populations that are disproportionately white and/or non-Hispanic they perpetuate segregation by excluding minority applicants who live outside those communities from obtaining housing here," the lawsuit states.

According to the New York Daily News:

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 Service 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.

Carter, a domestic abuse survivor as noted in the lawsuit, claims she and her family been forced to live in several homeless shelters and “other unstable environments” in Hartford, Connecticut.

When speaking with Carter about the voucher application process, a WHA employee allegedly told the mother “it would be better” for her to apply to Section 8 programs in Bridgeport, New Haven and Torrington, Connecticut, all towns with significantly higher African-American and Hispanic populations.

"We provide, without any type of discrimination, decent, safe, affordable housing and a sustainable living environment," reads the WHA mission statement.

The Connecticut Fair Housing Center is seeking both a policy change and punitive damages.


If you have been trying to buy or rent a home or apartment and you believe your rights have been violated, you can file a fair housing complaint here.

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