EAST ST. LOUIS – A group of residents claim their landlords discriminated against them based on race and whether they had minor children.
Paul Lambert, Mary Holder, Barbara Holder, William Frey, Pamela Purdiman, Shameka Nelson and Kimberly Simelton, on behalf of themselves and others similarly situated, filed the suit against the Alexander County Housing Authority and four other named defendants May 10 in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois East St. Louis Division.
According to the complaint, the plaintiffs have been long-term residents of the housing authority, and the defendants each worked at the authority as executive director. The plaintiffs allege the defendants have discriminated against residents of the McBride and Elmwood family housing developments based on their race and whether they have minor children.
The plaintiffs allege the defendants violated the Fair Housing Act, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Illinois Civil Rights Act of 2003.
The suit further alleges the defendants have allowed the two housing developments, where approximately 97 percent of the residents are African-American, to fall into disrepair while still charging more than they should for rent.
In February, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development took over operations of the ACHA, the suit states.
In addition to a trial by jury, the plaintiffs seek class action status, a permanent injunction that the ACHA stop the alleged discrimination, monetary relief in the amount of all rent overcharges, compensatory damages, punitive damages in an amount to be proven at trial, attorney fees and court costs.
The plaintiffs are represented by Christopher J. Wilmers of Hughes, Socol, Piers, Resnick & Dym Ltd. in Chicago, and Katherine E. Walz and Kevin Herrera of the Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law in Chicago.
U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois East St. Louis Division Case number 16-cv-513