Oct 21, 2022 - News

D.C. property managers to pay $10M for discriminating against voucher holders

D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Three D.C. real estate firms will pay $10 million for discriminating against renters who use Section 8 vouchers, D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine announced Thursday.

Why it matters: Racine says the penalty is the largest in a housing discrimination case in U.S. history, sending a strong warning to management companies that discriminate against voucher holders.

Details: The settlement comes out of a lawsuit Racine filed against DARO Management Services, DARO Realty, Infinity Real Estate, and several individuals, for making it difficult or impossible for Section 8 holders to rent in 15 buildings across wards 1, 2, and 3.

  • The consequences for DARO are the steepest: The property management business will be dissolved and all defendants permanently banned from owning a real estate company in D.C.

Carissa Barry, the company’s principal broker, will forfeit her real estate license for 15 years. According to D.C.'s complaint, Barry sent an email to Infinity Real Estate's co-founder saying, “I am doing everything I can to reduce if not eliminate the Section 8 program from our communities.”

What they're saying: Per the settlement, the defendants denied breaking the law but agreed to the terms.

The big picture: Around 11,500 District households use Section 8 vouchers, including many seniors, families with children, and people with disabilities. Ninety-five percent of voucher holders are Black, and 79% of households using them are headed by women, the AG’s office says.

  • Voucher programs, including Section 8 and rapid rehousing, have been at the forefront of the mayor’s plan to end homelessness. Last year, D.C. raised taxes on wealthier residents in order to fund more permanent supportive housing vouchers.

What we’re watching: The D.C. Council is considering legislation that would codify the AG's ability to investigate and punish landlords and property managers who discriminate against voucher holders, leading to more potential civil suits. So far, only a public hearing has been held on the legislation and has not yet been scheduled for a vote.


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