RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — 33 current and former mobile home park residents have reached a negotiated settlement to their housing discrimination lawsuit against the City of Richmond.
“This settlement is a positive outcome for our clients and for all mobile home park residents in the City of Richmond,” said Marie Diveley, Crowell & Moring senior counsel. “The City has agreed to take important steps that will not only benefit vulnerable mobile home park residents, but will also ensure that limited English speakers can access City services without unnecessary language barriers.”
The residents, who were represented pro bono by the Legal Aid Justice Center and the law firm of Crowell & Moring LLP, had alleged that the City of Richmond started unfairly targeting mobile home parks with large Latino populations through aggressive inspections and unreasonable code violations with the expectation that scores of vulnerable families would likely be displaced.
According to the lawsuit, the City also refused to provide adequate interpretation and translation services for the limited English proficient residents, in violation of federal civil rights laws.
The suit was filed in federal court in Richmond last August.
Under the terms of the settlement agreement the City will:
- work with a non-profit partner organization to assist mobile home park residents in addressing maintenance code violations prior to park-wide inspections;
- provide notices of code violations and appeal forms in Spanish to residents who are proficient in Spanish, but not English;
- institute a language-access plan pursuant to federal civil rights guidelines and train City employees on their obligations under the plan; arrange for Fair Housing Act training for certain departments of City government;
- and provide modest monetary assistance to the plaintiffs, for repair or relocation, and to assist more generally with repairs in mobile home parks.
With the agreement, the City also acknowledges that mobile homes play an important role in the affordable housing supply of Richmond.
“This settlement is the culmination of a long process of negotiation to address serious concerns on both sides,” according to Phil Storey, the Legal Aid Justice Center’s lead attorney on the case. “We are pleased that the City and the residents were able to reach a mutually agreeable resolution, thanks to assistance from Mark Rubin and VCU’s Center for Consensus Building.”