An Orland Park real estate agent who is also a landlord is accused of race-based housing descrimination in a lawsuit filed in federal court.
The suit alleges that Dennis Kolios and his wife, Mary, refused to show available apartments in their building to black prospective renters on three occasions, according to the Chicago Tribune. The nonprofit South Suburban Housing Center filed the lawsuit late last month.
It comes on the heels of a Newsday undercover investigation in Long Island, N.Y., which detailed widespread race discrimination in Long Island’s housing market.
In Orland Park, the Kolios’ are listed as owners of the apartment building at 8611 Lexington Circle, according to the lawsuit, as cited in the Tribune. Both deny the allegations. Mary Kolios said she has no involvement in the real estate dealings.
Over the summer, the South Suburban Housing Center used pairs of black and white testers to inquire over the phone about the building. The results allegedly showed racial discrimination toward prospective tenants, according to the suit.
Jeffrey Taren, an attorney representing South Suburban said he had “never run across a case where the African American tester couldn’t even get the address of the property from the housing.”
Last month, the Cook County Board of Commissioners approved a “Just Housing”ordinance that will open the door to people with criminal records who apply for housing. It is aimed at protecting prospective tenants with criminal backgrounds who have faced descrimination from landlords. [Tribune] — Jacqueline Flynn