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Annapolis to pay HACA residents $900,000 to settle racism lawsuit and enter in to Consent Decree

| September 09, 2020, 06:28 PM

The Annapolis City Council approved a settlement agreement in a lawsuit brought last year against the City, the Housing Authority of the City of Annapolis (HACA) and others. The Housing Authority entered into their own, separate, settlement agreement, the terms of which have not been disclosed. The terms of the City settlement include a one-time payment of $900,000, continuation of inspections of Housing Authority rental units and agreement from City officials to expedite any processes involved in the redevelopment of HACA properties.

Prior to the filing of the lawsuit in May of 2019, the City of Annapolis had introduced a City Council resolution to inspect HACA properties. The inspections began after the 2020 budget was passed in July of 2019.

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“While we cannot take responsibility for the things that have gone wrong in the history of public housing, we are taking responsibility for what happens with this lawsuit,” said Mayor Gavin Buckley. “Our ability to get to the point where we are doing the inspections and working toward rebuilding not only the physical buildings, but rebuilding the trust of residents is very important to me. I listened to the residents filing this lawsuit and appreciated their telling us that they need our help. We want everyone in this City to feel a part of the City.”

Annapolis’ City Attorney D. Michael Lyles said that the settlement arrangement was negotiated when both sides realized that a long, drawn-out legal fight was not in the best interests of either side.

“If litigation continued and we faced off in court, the fight could have lasted years,” Lyles said. “We wanted to resolve these issues for residents.”

The settlement was approved by the City Council during a Special Session on September 9.

City Manager David Jarrell said that the City of Annapolis is self-insured and that the payment will come from City finances already strained by the expenses of COVID and the loss of associated revenue from the economic downturn.

“While I’m glad we got to the other side of this, it was clear from the negotiations that neither side was getting what they wanted. There is a lot of pain to this story, but I am glad that the City can now focus on ensuring quality of life issues for residents,” Jarrell said.

The Capital also reported that the City has entered into a ten-year long Consent Decree that has approximatley sixty requirements of the City and includes an annual reporting.

The lawsuit initially stemmed from the living conditions in the HACA owned apartments. During the Pantelides administration, former Mayor Mike Pantelides began inspecting the residences (as they do all rental units in the City) in order to identify the issues and pressure HACA to make the appropriate corrections. These inspections ceased after current Mayor Gavin Buckley took office and were cited in the Federal lawsuit alleging discrimination and racism in that the majority of the residents are African American and that the City did not treat them equally in terms of inspections. The inspections resumed in July2019. Both the City and the Houseing Authority of the City of Annapolis were named in the suit.

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Category: Local News, NEWS, Post To FB

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