For Immediate Release
April 17, 2018
Contact: Jessica Aiwuyor | (202) 898-1661 | firstname.lastname@example.org
The National Fair Housing Alliance Files Fair Housing Complaint Against Evolve, LLC for Housing Discrimination
Today, the National Fair Housing Alliance (NFHA) filed a fair housing complaint with the Washington, DC, Office of Human Rights against Evolve LLC (“Evolve”). Evolve is a privately-owned development company that owns and manages multi-family properties in the District. NFHA’s complaint alleges that Evolve systematically and directly discriminates against people with Housing Choice Vouchers. Additionally, NFHA’s complaint alleges that Evolve’s policies and practices perpetuate residential segregation and have a disparate impact based on race, color, national origin, sex, and familial status in violation of the federal Fair Housing Act.
NFHA’s investigation found that Evolve uses its website to deter prospective tenants who intend to use Housing Choice Vouchers. When prospective tenants visit www.evolvedc.com and attempt to schedule an apartment viewing, they are required to identify whether they intend to use a “Section 8” voucher to pay rent. If the prospective tenant selects “yes,” the system does not allow them to schedule a viewing. NFHA’s investigation also found that when testers called Evolve to inquire about viewing an apartment, the company’s owners consistently indicated they do not accept Housing Choice Vouchers.
In Washington, DC, fair housing laws make it illegal for landlords to discriminate because someone intends to use a Housing Choice Voucher. The Housing Choice Voucher program gives participants the opportunity to choose where they live. Landlords like Evolve who engage in unlawful discrimination deprive these families of their freedom. Their practices also perpetuate segregation by excluding voucher recipients from predominantly White DC neighborhoods, like Capitol Hill, where the property that was investigated is located.
The DC housing market is already out of reach for thousands of families in the area. Vouchers are used to help families and people in need secure affordable housing. The discriminatory practices of Evolve are particularly harmful to female-headed households and Black residents. A person renting an apartment in DC with a voucher is 92 times more likely to be Black than White. Additionally, voucher holders are 1.46 times more likely to be female-headed households than renters without vouchers.
“Black DC residents and families with children are already being pushed out of the city in droves due to gentrification, unaffordability, and the lack of living wages. Even when provided with support, families still have difficulty securing housing because companies like Evolve find them unworthy of living in their properties. It’s not only illegal but immoral. Evolve does not get to determine who lives in DC. Families with children and Black residents have a right to live here too. Their source of income shouldn’t matter,” said Lisa Rice, President and CEO of NFHA.
“As a community-led organization that has been organizing against displacement and for the universal right to housing in DC for over 10 years, we have heard stories from many of our members about discrimination they experience as low-income tenants who use vouchers. In order to create racial and economic equity in DC, we need to make sure all programs that address the need for truly affordable housing are protected. The Housing Choice Voucher program cannot work as intended if we don’t hold landlords and developers accountable for their discriminatory actions, which result in unstable housing and rising homelessness in DC,” said Claire Cook, Administrative Organizer at ONE DC.
“If you are privileged enough to be the owner of rental property in this city, what comes with that privilege is the responsibility to be open to all qualified renters – including families with Housing Choice Vouchers. Non-discrimination is part of our basic social contract here in DC,” said Phil Tegeler, Executive Director of the Poverty & Race Research Action Council.
Founded in 1988, the National Fair Housing Alliance is a consortium of more than 220 private, non-profit fair housing organizations, state and local civil rights agencies, and individuals from throughout the United States. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., the National Fair Housing Alliance, through comprehensive education, advocacy, enforcement programs, and neighborhood-based community development programs, provides equal access to apartments, houses, mortgage loans, and insurance policies for all residents of the nation.