Euless apartments accused of denying units to Muslims

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by DAVID SCHECHTER / WFAA-TV

Bio | Email | Follow: @davidschechter

wfaa.com

Posted on March 1, 2010 at 11:36 PM

Updated Wednesday, Mar 3 at 5:46 PM

NEWS 8 INVESTIGATES

EULESS — A North Texas apartment complex is facing accusations that it segregates Muslims in buildings away from other tenants — or refuses to rent to them at all.

The complaint comes from former leasing agents at the StoneBridge at Bear Creek complex in Euless. They say Muslims were routinely denied apartments even when there were vacancies.

"If somebody called over the phone inquiring about an apartment, we were told that if they have an accent or a different name that we are supposed to tell them that we didn't have anything available,” said Daneisha Davis, who worked there for a year-and-a-half.

Michelle Williams was Davis’ co-worker. She says Stonebridge’s manager told her, on a regular basis, to turn away potential walk-in renters if they looked Asian or Middle Eastern.

"Make it undesirable for them to want to come back,” is what Williams says she was told. "Even though we were only 80 percent full, or 75 percent full. We had plenty of apartments we could've rented out."

"She referred to them as 'curry people.' And they used curry to cook with, that they smelled bad and they were dirty,” said Davis.

For the duration of the time the women worked at Stonebridge, they say they were told there was one condition under which they could rent to Muslims: If they were all kept in the same two buildings of the 21-building complex.

"She definitely made it clear to both of us that she didn't want other residents complaining about having to live next to 'curry people,'"  Davis said.

"Wow. Wow. That's unfortunate,” said AbdulNasir Jangda, an Imam at the Islamic Association for the Mid-Cities. “When we start grouping people together, we're creating a very divisive element. How are we supposed to understand and relate and appreciate one another if we can't stand to live next together?"

In January, Davis filed a Federal Fair Housing complaint against Stonebridge, alleging discrimination. The complaint made, via e-mail, was sent on a Saturday.

The next Tuesday, Davis was reassigned to other properties inside the company.

She has since quit and is looking for work.

Though she hasn't sued, Davis does have a lawyer. "It's obviously suspicious in the case of the timing,” said attorney Ty Gomez.

Stonebridge denied a News 8 request for an on-camera interview. But on the phone, the company said Davis' re-assignment had been in the works. It says an internal investigation found no evidence of discrimination or steering minorities into specific buildings.

And Stonebridge says it has residents of all ethnicities throughout the property.

The federal government has transferred Davis' complaint to the Texas Work Force Commission -- Civil Rights Division. She hopes the agency will be able to right what she sees as a fundamental wrong.

"People come here for a chance at a better life and to be treated fairly, and they're not being treated fairly," she said. " And I don't even think they know it.”

"I am paying a pretty high price, but it's worth it.”

E-mail dschechter@wfaa.com

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