February 23, 2018

Travelers settles D.C. Section 8 flap

HBJ File Photo
HBJ File Photo
The Travelers Cos.

A Hartford unit of the Travelers Cos. will no longer ask the source of residents' income in apartments that it considers insuring in the nation's capitol, authorities say.

The nonprofit National Fair Housing Alliance (NFHA) announced Friday its settlement with Travelers Indemnity Co. that guarantees that Washington, D.C., housing landlords won't be denied coverage because they rent to Section 8 tenants.

Most of D.C.'s Section 8 tenants are African-American or households headed by women, NFHA said.

While not admitting wrongdoing or liability, Travelers also agreed to pay NFHA $450,000 for damages, costs, and fees, officials said. It also will train staff involved in the sale or underwriting of insurance for rental properties.

NFHA said it began testing insurers and insurance brokers in 2015 to investigate possible sources of income and race discrimination. Through testing NFHA said it confirmed that Travelers had policies in place that denied insurance to landlords who rented to voucher recipients.

Every landlord tester was told that Travelers would not underwrite their apartment building because they housed voucher recipients, the nonprofit said. The lawsuit, filed in May 2016, alleged that these practices violated the Fair Housing Act's and D.C. Human Rights Act's prohibitions on race and sex discrimination, as well as the D.C. law's prohibition on source-of-income discrimination.

NFHA was represented by Washington D.C. civil-rights law firm Relman, Dane & Colfax PLLC.

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