Housing group charges racial discrimination at Miami apartment complex

When Zipporah Hayes arrived at Elite River View Apartments to ask about a two-bedroom apartment for rent, the rental manager told her there were no units available, according to a federal lawsuit filed against the apartment complex owner.

Two hours later, Alexandra Del Rosario visited the same complex and asked about an apartment. The rental manager showed Del Rosario Penthouse 703. If approved, he said, “she can move in anytime.”

Hayes is African-American. Del Rosario is Hispanic.

A Miami-based fair housing organization — Housing Opportunities Project for Excellence (HOPE) — has filed a lawsuit against the apartment complex at 1705 NW 27 Ave., after “testing” the apartment complex three times from February to March. HOPE was checking to see whether the apartment complex had a pattern of renting units based on race — a discriminatory practice forbidden by the federal Fair Housing Act

HOPE, partially funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, conducts random, periodic discrimination testing.

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The plaintiffs are represented by Randall Berg Jr. and Dante Trevisani, civil rights attorneys at the Florida Justice Institute in Miami.

Berg said if not for these types of testing, most people wouldn’t know they were being discriminated against based on their race.

“Doing this type of testing is very important,” he said. “It’s very depressing for someone of color to know you are being denied housing on the basis of your skin. Miami is considered a major up and coming area. If we are going to become the type of community we want Miami to be, we have to end this practice once and for all.”

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