A D.C. real estate firm yesterday said $6,000 to a woman who alleged that City Council member-elect H.R. Crawford rejected her application for an apartment in Northwest Washington two years ago by saying that she lived in a slum where "niggers" took poor care of their homes. Both Crawford and the woman are black.
Crawford, who has a reputation for being a blunt landlord who has not hesitated to kick out tenants he has found unsatisfactory, yesterday termed the woman's housing discrimination allegations "baseless."
The newly elected Ward 7 council member said he did not recall making the deragtory comments Roxanna Bowers alleged he made when she was interviewed for an apartment in August 1978.
An allegation of discrimination in a case involving two persons of the same race and one in which a racial epithet allegedly was used is "exceptionally rare," according to an official of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which restricts its work to job discrimination. cases.
The D.C. Office of Human Rights, the city agency that investigates posible violations of the District's Human Rights Act of 1977, found "probable cause" in February that Bowers' rental application was rejected because of where she lived at the time she applied. Bowers and her daughter lived in a $163-a-month, one-bedroom apartment at the Paradise Manor public housing project at 3545 Jay St. NE at the time she applied for a larger, $200-a-month apartment at the government-subsidized Washington Apartments at 1204 Fifth St. NW. Crawford at the time was a rental agent for Edgewood Management Corp., which operates the Washington Apartments.
A hearing before an examiner for the D.C. Commission on Human Rights scheduled for yesterday was canceled when the settlement was reached between Edgewood Management Corp. and attorneys for the Washington Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights, a fair housing group that represented Bowers. Officials at Edgewood Management declined to comment on why they agreed to the settlement.
In the settlement, Edgewood said it does not admit that it did anything wrong. Crawford, who was not named by Bowers as a party in the complaint, said Edgewood did not consult him in reaching its decision to settle. He said he no longer works for the company.
Bowers, a 31-year-old government secretary who makes about $16,000 a year, called the settlement "just great."
"He [crawford] didn't show any tact at all [when he interviewed her about the rental application]," Bowers said. "He was just downright crude." a
When she went to an Edgewood office in 1978, Crawford glanced at her appliation and in the presence of other applicants in the waiting room, allegedly referred to Paradise Manor by saying: "Haven't they torn that place down on Jay Street, yet? That's nothing but a slum," according to the complaint Bowers filed with the Office of Human Rights.
After inviting her into his office, she alleged that Crawford went on to say: "Just by looking at your application I could approve it, but because the niggers that live out there have a reputation for tearing up apartments, I will have to send someone out to inspect your home." But Bowers said she never saw an inspector and later was told that Washington Apartments had no available units for her.
Investigators for the Human Rights Office later found that there were apartments available, according to Bowers' lawyers.
The 42-year-old Crawford, who is now a D.C. real estate man and consultant, said that 99 percent of the people accepted in the apartments Bowers applied for were black. Crawford will take office as a city councilman on Jan. 2.