Mobile home park managers accused of racial bias

Published 2:48 am Sunday, June 21, 2009

The Justice Department filed a lawsuit Friday against the former managers of a Mississippi mobile home park who allegedly discriminated against a black family that lived there after being displaced by Hurricane Katrina.

The federal suit claims property managers Edward and Barbara Hamilton harassed and intimidated black tenants at Gulfport’s Homestead Mobile Home Village, which leased its lots to the Federal Emergency Management Agency after the August 2005 storm wiped out tens of thousands of homes in the region.

The Hamiltons are accused of trying to evict a black family for unsubstantiated violations of park rules. The Justice Department says the couple didn’t try to evict white residents of the 98-lot park for the same alleged infractions.

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The suit seeks unspecified damages and civil penalties against the Hamiltons and Indigo Investments, the park’s former owner.

The Hamiltons did not have a lawyer listed in court records.

The black family that got an eviction notice from the Hamiltons filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development in May 2006, only days after a judge dismissed the eviction petition.

“It’s hard enough for families recovering from catastrophic events like Hurricane Katrina to put their lives back together, without also having to face housing discrimination,” HUD official John Trasvina said in a written statement.