An Illinois landlord is trying again to get the federal government to decide whether his city's zoning practices are racist.
Rick Brown filed a second complaint in February with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, alleging that the city of Belleville's denial of his intention to rent out a mobile home constitutes racism in that it denied access to low-income housing, thereby keeping out minority residents.
HUD, in a letter dated Feb. 28, told Brown that the agency is investigating, as required by law when a complaint is filed. The investigation must be completed within 100 days.
Mayor Mark Eckert, who along with the city is named in the complaint, said Brown has been "bitter for many years," but declined further comment because the case is pending.
Eckert in the past has said he favors the growth of single-family homes in Belleville, which has a housing stock that is 44 percent rental. He consistently denies discriminatory practices and insists that city leaders' intentions are only to improve property values.
Brown wrote in the complaint: "I believe the revised zoning ordinances for the city of Belleville limit my capabilities to rent to minorities, especially African-Americans, because the city wants to monitor the number of minorities coming into the city from neighboring African-American communities."
Brown's first complaint, filed in August 2009, was denied by HUD. The agency said Brown didn't have standing to complain because his allegations regarded something that was past the statute of limitations.
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