Company to pay $250,000 in settling suit charging racial steering by agents

September 11, 1992|By Melody Simmons | Melody Simmons,Staff Writer

A Delaware company has agreed to pay $250,000 to settle charges of racial steering after its real estate agents selectively showed homes to potential black and white buyers in Randallstown, Owings Mills and Pikesville.

Fine Homes, a limited partnership that once owned a Baltimore real estate company, agreed yesterday to settle a 1990 lawsuit filed by Baltimore Neighborhoods Inc., a fair-housing group.

The suit alleged that Fine Homes agents steered black customers away from predominantly white neighborhoods in Baltimore County northwest of the city and that whites were steered away from predominantly black and integrated neighborhoods along the Liberty Road corridor.

Baltimore Neighborhoods filed the lawsuit after sending white and black testers to Fine Homes agents in 1989. The testers asked to see homes that cost an average of $100,000, said Baltimore Neighborhoods attorney Andrew Freeman.

Four homes were shown to white testers in the predominantly white neighborhood between Park Heights Avenue and Reisterstown Road, but no homes were shown to black testers in that neighborhood.

Meanwhile, 33 homes were shown to black testers in the predominantly black neighborhoods south of Liberty Road near Windsor Mill Road, but only four homes were shown to white testers in that area.

"We found a very striking pattern," Mr. Freeman said. "The

strongest evidence of blacks being steered away was in Pikesville."

Mr. Freeman and Martin Dyer, associate director of Baltimore Neighborhoods, said that despite the settlement, complaints about racial steering persist in the areas affected by the lawsuit.

Under the terms of the settlement, Mr. Freeman declined to give the name of the real estate company that was operated by Fine Homes. That company is operating under new ownership.

Richard T. Sampson, the attorney for Fine Homes, did not return phone calls.

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