Ruston, Lousiana, Housing Authority agrees to pay $175,000 and stop filling vacancies based on race to settle Justice Department lawsuit

May 11, 2015
The Justice Department announced today that the Housing Authority of the city of Ruston, Louisiana, has agreed to pay $175,000 and adopt comprehensive new policies to settle a race discrimination lawsuit filed by the department. The settlement must still be approved by U.S. District Court Judge Robert G. James of the Western District of Louisiana.
     The department’s lawsuit, filed in September 2013, alleged that the Ruston Housing Authority (RHA) had long segregated the 300 apartments in its five public housing developments by assigning vacancies to applicants based on their race, rather than on their place on the waiting list. Specifically, the department alleged that the RHA disproportionately assigned white applicants to its two developments that were located in the predominantly white neighborhoods of Ruston—Louise Homes and Maryland Plaza Homes. At the same time, the department alleged, RHA primarily assigned African-American applicants to the complexes located in predominantly African-American neighborhoods—Eastwood Homes, Greenwood Homes and Truman Homes. When it originally began developing housing in the 1950’s and early 1960’s, the RHA explicitly reserved Louise Homes and Maryland Plaza for “white” persons, while reserving Greenwood and Truman for what it termed “colored” persons.