US Commission on Civil Rights publishes freecivil rights booklet

On March 14, 1997, a federal jury found Eliza Keulian, a Pennsylvania landlord, liable forhousing discrimination and awarded $28,000 to seven plaintiffs and the Fair HousingCouncil of Suburban Philadelphia. The jury found that Keulian had illegally discriminatedagainst prospective tenants on the basis of race, color, and family status. Clifford Boardman, the attorney representing the plaintiffs, also won aninjunction against Keulian that removed her from the day to day operations of her rentalproperties for five years.

The award came nearly six years after the Fair Housing Council settled acomplaint of racial discrimination against Keulian. In 1991, she had been askingprospective tenants about their racial identity and then explaining that she did not rentto African-Americans.

Landlord said that "children are diseased"
In 1993, the Fair Housing Council began receiving complaints that Keulian was tellingprospective tenants that children were "diseased." She said that children arealways contracting and carrying mumps, chicken pox, and measles. She also said that shewould not rent to anyone with children. The Fair Housing Council conducted tests atKeulian's properties and confirmed that she was making those kinds of statements.

Based upon the testing evidence, the Fair Housing Council filed acomplaint with the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission (PHRC). According to the FairHousing Council, when the PHRC notified Keulian that a complaint had been filed againsther, she wrote a letter to the Commission in which she apologized for her behavior andpromised never to act in that fashion again. However, Keulian refused to attend anymeetings held at the PHRC and never discussed any terms of a settlement of the complaint.In June 1993, the PHRC issued a finding of probable cause for the complaint.

Landlord said she didn't rent to "people of color"
While the Fair Housing Council was awaiting further action concerning the complaint filedwith the PHRC, more complaints against Keulian began to emerge. According to the FairHousing Council, Keulian met with Alicia and Andrew Totdahl in 1994. When she saw thatAlicia Totdahl was eight months pregnant, Keulian told her that she was wasting her time.Keulian told her that she did not rent to families with children because "childrenare filthy." Keulian then looked at Andrew Totdahl and said that it didn'tmatter that Alicia was pregnant because she did not rent to "people of color."The Totdahls contacted the Fair Housing Council. During the next several months, the FairHousing Council received five more complaints in addition to the Totdahls' complaint.