Wilmington housing complex settles criminal-record discrimination case

RALEIGH—Legal Aid of North Carolina announced today that it has settled a housing discrimination complaint against Cypress Grove Apartments, a multifamily housing complex located in Wilmington, North Carolina.

Legal Aid’s Fair Housing Project filed the complaint on behalf of a 64-year-old tenant whose rental application was improperly denied because of Cypress Grove’s criminal history policy. The complaint alleged that Cypress Grove, based on its criminal history policy, illegally rejected the tenant’s rental application because of a 34-year-old felony assault conviction, in violation of the federal Fair Housing Act (FHA). Cypress Grove denied the allegations and asserted that its actions were not in violation of the FHA.

As a result of the conciliation agreement signed by the parties and approved by the North Carolina Human Relations Commission on November 12, 2020, Cypress Grove has adopted and implemented a new criminal history policy, substantially based on 2016 guidance from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Jeffrey Dillman, co-director of the Fair Housing Project, noted that policies that reject all applicants with a criminal history can violate fair housing laws, stating “Cypress Grove Apartments is to be commended for adopting its new criminal history policy, which will review applicants’ individual situations rather than automatically rejecting all applicants with a criminal history.”

Legal Aid of North Carolina's involvement in this litigation was made possible in part by a grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's Fair Housing Initiatives Program.

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Legal Aid of North Carolina's Fair Housing Project works to eliminate housing discrimination and to ensure equal housing opportunity for all people through education, outreach, public policy initiatives, advocacy and enforcement. To learn more, visit fairhousingnc.org.

Media contact

Helen Hobson, Public Relations Associate, Legal Aid of North Carolina, helenh2@legalaidnc.org