Local News

Tarboro Settles Unfair Housing Suit

Posted April 29, 2003

— Some victims of Hurricane Floyd have more money in their pockets after settling a lawsuit with Tarboro.

The suit claimed the town discriminated against low-income African-Americans by limiting the availability of affordable homes.

The flood from Hurricane Floyd four years ago destroyed more than 100 Tarboro homes and apartments. Many displaced families hoped the town would make it easier for developers to build affordable homes and apartments.

Instead, some of them say, the town made it more difficult.

"It is my belief that the town of Tarboro discriminated against black, low-income people in Tarboro," said Minnie White, one of 14 plaintiffs in the suit.

White and the other plaintiffs say zoning changes and tougher construction guidelines discouraged developers from building low-income multi-family apartments in Tarboro.

The suit will never go to court. The town didn't admit guilt, but it did pay the plaintiffs more than $74,000.

As part of the settlement, the town paid an additional $21,000 to Fair Housing of North Carolina and also relaxed buffer requirements between apartment complexes and single-family developments.

"We certainly would have worked with them without both sides having to spend the money in legal fees," Town Manager Sam Noble said.

Hawthorne Court Apartments were built after the flood. Legal-aid attorneys say the developer persevered in spite of tough restrictions from the town. The town said it's an example of how it is willing to work with developers.

Tarboro also has opened up three large tracts of land previously closed to development of multi-family units. Now the question is: will developers come to build them?

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