Race Still an Issue in Chicago’s Bridgeport

CHICAGO (CN) – Comedian George Willborn sued a family in Chicago’s Bridgeport neighborhood, and their real estate agent and real estate office, claiming they pulled the family’s $1.7 million home off the market and refused to sell it to him because Willborn is black. Bridgeport is the longtime home of Chicago’s original Mayor Daley.

     Willport and his family sued Daniel and Adrienne Sabbia; their real-estate agent Jeffrey Lowe and The Lowe Group Chicago; and Midwest Realty Venture dba Prudential Rubloff Properties, in Federal Court.
     The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development sued the same defendants this month, on the same charges. HUD announced its complaint in an Aug. 10 statement.
     The Sabbias, a white married couple, own the 5-bedroom single family home in the 3300 block of South Normal Avenue, according to the complaint. When they listed the house, “The Sabbias told Lowe that they would prefer not to sell the subject property to an African-American, thereby orally indicating an intent to discriminate and violate federal and Illinois state housing laws,” Willborn says. He adds that “Lowe instructed the Sabbias that the restriction was a violation of those laws.”
     The Sabbias listed the house for sale for $1.99 million on Jan. 8, 2008, then dropped the price to $1.79 million in April 2009.
     In January 2010, when the house had been on the market for 2 years, Willborn says he offered $1.5 million. After the usual counteroffers, he says the Sabbias agreed to him the home for $1.7 million.
     But when the Sabbias learned that Willborn was black, he says, they refused to sell it and took it off the market.
     Bridgeport is an Irish-American enclave on Chicago’s South Side.
     The Willborns seek actual damages and punitive damages. They are represented by Neil Ament of Northbrook.

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