[Hpn] California landlord accused of offering homeless women reduced rent in return for sexual favors return for sexual favors

icanamerica icanamerica@email.msn.com
Wed, 05 Jul 2000 05:08:28 -0500

HUD Daily Message
for wednesday, july 5, 2000

Landlord To Pay $195,000 To Settle Housing Discrimination Lawsuit

A California landlord accused of offering homeless women reduced rent in return
for sexual favors has agreed to pay $195,000 to settle a housing discrimination
lawsuit, Housing and Urban Development Secretary Andrew Cuomo announced today.

The lawsuit accused landlord Kamal Lal of seeking out women at the Modesto Inn
homeless shelter and offering them reduced rent or other benefits in return for
sexual favors. Kamal Lal – along with his wife, Usha – agreed to the settlement.
The two own about 20 rental homes in Modesto, CA.

In addition to paying the $195,000, Kamal Lal is barred from establishing
contact with his former, current and future tenants. He also must hire a
professional management company to run his rental properties, and he must attend
fair housing training.

"The message of this settlement is that housing discrimination does not pay,"
Cuomo said. "Large financial settlements will act as a deterrent against
outrageous and illegal discrimination that has no place in our country."

Modesto Inn homeless shelter residents Doreen Cordero and Jill Hickey sued Kamal
Lal and his wife for separate incidents that allegedly happened in late 1997.

Cordero and Hickey were assisted in their lawsuit by Project Sentinel, a private
California fair housing group that receives HUD funding. The law firm of
Brancart and Brancart of Pescedero, CA – a member of Project Sentinel’s Lawyer
Referral Service – and California Rural Legal Assistance handled the case and
filed the lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California
in June 1998. California Rural Legal Assistance also receives HUD funding to
fight housing discrimination.

The settlement money will be divided between Cordero, Project Sentinel and the
lawyers. Hickey settled her portion of the lawsuit separately in 1999, prior to
the resolution of the remainder of the suit this year.

Project Sentinel and the group’s investigators said they found at least ten
other women who also claimed that Lal made sexually explicit comments or
requested sexual favors from them in exchange for rent, maintenance, or other
benefits. The most recent accusation was from December 1998.

Liza Cristol-Deman, Cordero and Hickey’s attorney, said: "This case and the
settlement reached by the parties are extremely important, not only because the
victims will receive compensation, but because the consent decree ensures that
Mr. Lal will no longer have contact with his tenants or rental applications. Mr.
Lal cannot abuse his position as a housing provider to prey on women any

Project Sentinel Executive Director Ann Marquart said: "It is vital that our
communities understand that sexual harassment victims have civil rights
protection and that HUD provides the resources for that protection – that
remedies are available."

The Fair Housing Act bars housing discrimination on the basis of race, color,
religion, sex, disability, family status and national origin. The Act covers the
sale, rental, financing and advertising of almost all housing in the nation.
Fair housing investigations are conducted by HUD investigators, state and city
agencies working with HUD, and private fair housing groups that receive HUD

H. C. {Sonny} Covington
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