Undercover investigations revealed a Little Rock apartment complex discriminated against prospective Hispanic renters in violation of the Fair Housing Act, a group said Wednesday.
The National Fair Housing Alliance said in a statement that it has filed a housing discrimination complaint with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Arkansas Fair Housing Commission after undercover probes showed Bailey Properties treated prospective Hispanic and white renters much differently.
A spokesman for the housing alliance said the undercover work was at The Waterford Apartments, a complex at 701 Green Mountain Drive.
According to the group's statement, apartment managers either did not give would-be Hispanic tenants a rental application or provided one after a "significant period of time." White renters, meanwhile, received prompt replies and follow-up communications, the group said.
The undercover prospective renters attempted to apply for apartments at the facility on multiple occasions, most recently on March 6, said Naweed Lemar, a spokesman for the alliance. In each case, the Hispanic renter listed a higher income, a longer job history and "other better qualifying characteristics" than the white counterpart, the group said.
"In one instance, a white renter and a Latino renter both called on the same day asking about available apartments and information on applying," the housing alliance said in its statement. "The white renter received an application via email within eight minutes along with other detailed application requirements and information. By contrast, the Latino renter had to wait 12 days for a response which included only the application and no additional required information, effectively eliminating that apartment as an option for someone who was planning to move in short order."
Lemar said the Department of Housing and Urban Development will now conduct its own investigation into the allegations.
A man who answered the phone Wednesday afternoon at The Waterford's office directed a reporter to the complex's corporate office. A message left there wasn't immediately returned.
But late Thursday, BSR Trust LLC, which comprises Bailey Properties and Summit Housing Partners LLC, responded in a statement.
"Our communities consist of more than 19,000 units, with more than 40,000 people calling one of our communities home. A wide variety of races, gender, income levels and ages of residents live in our communities," BSR Trust said. "We were surprised to find out about a complaint made by the National Fair Housing Alliance alleging discrimination against Latinos at one of our Little Rock, Ark., communities. ... We received no details of the allegations — only what local media have reported — but hope to learn more from the National Fair Housing Alliance."