ATLANTA (CN) – Federal prosecutors say that Coldwell Banker Joe T. Lane Realty kept separate listings for white and black homebuyers, steered white people to white areas and told one “tester” that “blacks do not keep their homes up” and “whites move south when blacks move in.”
The U.S. Justice Department sued the realty office in Jonesboro, Ga., and its agent Rodney Lee Foreman after the National Fair Housing Alliance investigated the Coldwell Banker agent with “testers” of different races.
On three occasions, Foreman agent steered white testers to predominantly white areas, the complaint states. Foreman allegedly told one tester not to look at homes in one area as it was predominantly African American, and said he “saw people selling drugs at the neighborhood entrance.”
Upon being contacted by telephone, “Foreman told the tests that he did not know where to take the tester because he could not tell from talking on the telephone whether the tester was white,” the complaint states. “Foreman said words to the effect that ‘I didn’t know if you were a Caucasian or not over the phone.'”
Foreman told a tester that “blacks do not keep their homes up” and that “whites move south when blacks move in.”
It adds that Foreman “told the [white] tester words to the effect that he had planned to show that home to the tester but that the home was in a black neighborhood, ‘so that one’s out.’ Foreman told the tester that he made two different sets of listings – one set in case the tester was white and one set in case the tester was black.”
Coldwell Banker Joe T. Lane Realty and Jonesboro are in Clayton County, which has been in turmoil for years and wracked with lawsuits over racial tension in its sheriff’s office.
The United States alleges violations of Fair Housing Act. It demands an injunction and monetary damages for the National Fair Housing Alliance.