RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Trailer park residents are claiming victory after taking on the City of Richmond in a discrimination lawsuit.
The federal lawsuit filed last August accused code inspectors of targeting Latino residents in mobile home parks with an abusive enforcement campaign that put families out on the street.
Settlement in discrimination lawsuit vs. City of Richmond
One egregious accusation says code enforcers refused to provide residents with an adequate translator to help them understand complicated documents given to them only in English.
This settlement requires the city to get busy dismantling the language barrier.
The settlement requires Richmond to work with a non-profit organization to help families understand the violations and address them. Code inspectors
must give notices and appeal forms in Spanish to residents who are proficient in Spanish but not English.
Richmond must set in motion a language-access plan that meets federal civil rights guidelines and train City employees on their obligations under the
federal Fair Housing Act.
You may recall NBC 12's visits last year to Rudd Trailer Park and Mobile Town Trailer Park, where many of the homes had been condemned and
residents lived in constant fear of losing their home. Most of the people we talked with back then were Latino and claimed the city was targeting them.
Olivia Leon Vitervo lives in Rudd's Trailer Park and says, "The requirements were vague and unreasonable. The process of getting city permits and approval was way more complicated than it should have."
The lawsuit claimed even when families tried to comply and make changes, their homes were still condemned, kicking families out on the street. Attorneys for the families say code enforcers waged an aggressive campaign fueled by threats and intimidation from inspectors who abused their authority.
The city of Richmond said there were hundreds of safety violations.
The families who sued the city will get modest monetary help for repairs or relocation, and Richmond acknowledges that mobile homes "play an important role in the affordable housing supply of Richmond."
The Legal Aid Justice Center and the law firm of Crowell & Moring did the work pro-bono.
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