Natives Allege Housing Discrimination

Submitted by admin on Tue, 07/26/2011 - 08:06
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Three Native American families have filed fair housing complaints. The Maine Human Rights Commission will hear their cases.

A Penobscot and Passamaquoddy woman from Bangor was threatened with eviction from public housing. Her apartment had failed inspection. She had stored some old mattresses in her basement while waiting for help with moving them. The housing authority accused her of putting up guests in her basement. The inspector who failed her said, without prompting, that he was not evicting her because of her culture. She appealed the eviction. The hearing officer forgot about her hearing and then was rude to her at the hearing. She complains that she was treated differently and unfairly because she is Native. The inspector, who had worked there for many years, recently left.

A Penobscot woman from Bangor faced eviction based on a criminal traffic conviction that was more than a year old. She appealed the decision. She brought evaluation and treatment records to her hearing. These records were from her Native American evaluator and Wabanaki Mental Health. The housing authority rejected her records. They told her that the records were not adequate. However, they would accept records from Acadia.
The Maine Human Rights Commission has investigated these cases. HUD has opened a Civil Rights investigation. They will look into claims that the housing authority illegally discriminates against Native Americans.

In a third case, a Penobscot couple from Milford tried to move out of their mobile home park. An agent of the mobile home park harassed the man several times while he was preparing the mobile home for transport. The couple reports that the park agent said things like, “The only good Indian is a dead Indian” and “All Indians are a waste of my space.” He also threatened to kill the man before he would let him move the mobile home. This case has settled.

Pine Tree Legal represents the families under a grant from HUD (U.S. Dept of Housing and Urban Development).