A woman was strangled and thrown against a mirror in her apartment by an ex-boyfriend. When she returned from the hospital the next day, she received notice from the property manager to leave the apartment complex — her lease agreement read, in part, that a "resident or any member of the resident's household, or a guest or other person under the resident's control, will not be involved in any aspect of domestic violence." Violating those terms, according to the lease agreement, gives the landlord permission to end the lease.
The case of "Marilyn" was the subject of a Gambit cover story on the state of domestic violence-related housing discrimination, in which victims often are unfairly evicted or asked to leave properties after an incident. Survivors also have difficulty getting housing, particularly if their last address was a shelter and not a "home." Marilyn's case, and others like it, compelled state Sen. Sharon Weston Broome, D-Baton Rouge, to draft legislation to better protect survivors and their housing — an uphill, years-long legislative battle that became law Aug. 1.
Today, the Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center — which represented "Marilyn" in a U.S. District Court suit — settled the complaint out of court. The case appeared in U.S. District Court earlier this year, and the defendants denied the allegations and timeline of events outlined in the plaintiff's case.
"I am happy that this case is resolved and satisfied with the settlement," Marilyn wrote in a statement to Gambit. "My hope is that no one ever loses their home again because they are a victim of abuse."
In a statement, Cashauna Hill, executive director of the Fair Housing Action Center, said, "No one should lose their home because they were a victim of a crime. We are humbled that our client came forward to make sure that no one else will lose their home due to unlawful discrimination."