City of Tampa Files Race and Gender Discrimination in Housing Case
Tampa, FL, January 1, 2020, the City of Tampa filed a fair housing case on behalf of Shelquen Washington and her three minor children for a series of blatantly discriminatory acts by a property manager of a Tampa quadplex located on Temple Heights Road.
According to Ms. Washington’s attorney, Miami Civil Rights litigator, Matthew Dietz, Ms. Washington was targeted by a housing provider who felt emboldened to prey on a vulnerable resident who could not move to a new location because of the lack of affordable housing options. For months, Ms. Washington was subject to racial and sexual harassment, false reports to authorities so she would have her children removed or housing vouchers revoked, harassment of her guests because of their color, and a wrongful eviction.
In November 2017, soon after moving into an apartment owned by CTP Financial Inc, Ms. Washington was propositioned by the property manager, Vincent Russel Lambert. Mr. Lambert pinched Ms. Washington’s shoulder and told her that he had previously had issues with a former tenant whom had played the “race card”, but he would not mind having his “first piece of dark meat.”
After Ms. Washington did not accede to Mr. Lambert’s advances, the behaviors escalated until Mr. Lambert, and the CTP’s owner, Christian Podedworney, attempted to evict Ms. Washington and her children. Throughout these efforts, Mr. Lambert texted his racist blow-by-blow intent to the maintenance man of the complex, Christopher Stout, who turned these texts over to Ms. Washington and the City of Tampa.
Mr. Lambert would send a picture of himself in his Klansman robes, and send texts to Stout that stated:
Yea shes a typical nig.. Auto jumps to race card instead of looking in mirror and realizing shes a shitty neighbor and tenant & her free ride is up
As such, it was Mr. Lambert’s plan to ensure that he could manufacture grounds to evict her.
All she can do is create more work for us but im gonna get her kicked out…welfare free ride is over and them kids (her paycheck) in state custody. See how niggery she gets then.
Watch what happens to her world. I already got a tenant coming in to replace her
Shelquen may have run her mouth but he cant fail us of her bs if pipe is like he wants. Fuck her thot ass! Nigger whore living off bastard kids
Probably none same dad.
For the next three months, it was non-stop harassment for Ms. Washington and her children. First, Mr. Lambert locked off the back yard to the Washington family. This was particularly difficult for Ms. Lambert’s seven-year-old daughter, Leon’iah, who is Autistic and wanders away.
Then, Lambert made a false abuse report to the Department of Children and Families, and accused Ms. Washington and her mother of using marijuana and crack, sleeping with many men (including drug dealers), and leaving alcohol bottles strewn about the building, and the children were neglected and playing in the street and in dumpsters. To his friend, Mr. Stout, Mr. Lambert texted as follows:
Shelquin better get ready for DCF cause she is fucking with all of our $$ cause shes a whore & cant control her fuck for the night.
DCF did not find any basis for the report, however, they did do a thorough investigation, and Ms. Washington agreed to undergo drug tests to prove that she was a good mother and not on drugs.
Lambert bragged to Stout that he knew that DCF is required to keep the reporter’s name confidential, but Ms. Washington knew that it was Lambert, and Lambert was hoping that she would give him any reason to evict:
When I come back im having cops nearby to set her up & hopefully get her arrested. I spoke to captain Flynn today & told her that I have her on video calling me racist names so it could be hate crime…lol That’s right. Goes both ways.
Ms. Washington did not give Mr. Lambert any excuses to have her arrested. But the harassment continued.
- Lambert blamed Ms. Washington for clogging the pipes with baby wipes and toys, even though she does not have any infants.
- Lambert cut the freon line for the air conditioner into Ms. Washington’s apartment and directed the maintenance man not to repair it. Instead, he wanted to wait until after she was evicted: “No. Im not gonna waste my weekend worrying about it. Let the monkeys tear it up & we get paid to evict and repair.”
- Lambert blamed Ms. Washington for leaving furniture and garbage on the property
- Lambert attempted to contact Tampa Housing Authority to have them revoke Ms. Washington’s Section 8 housing voucher.
The eviction proceedings started on March 13, when Mr. Lambert was upset when an African American man came to Ms. Washington’s home to take her to the hospital emergency room, and he called the police when he refused to move his car when he went to drive Ms. Washington.
Mr. Lambert and Mr. Podedworney attempted to charge Ms. Washington with all of the violations for the past four months. The Court reviewed the texts from Mr. Lambert and heard Ms. Washington’s defense, and ruled in favor of Ms. Washington and dismissed the complaint on August 9, 2018.
In May of 2018, Ms. Washington filed a housing discrimination complaint with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, and the City of Tampa Office of Human Rights. On October 15, 2019, the City of Tampa Office of Human Rights Administrator issued a detailed Notice of Determination finding that CTP Financial, Lambert ant Podedworney discriminated against Ms. Washington, and Ms. Washington elected for the City to file suit on her behalf, and Ms. Washington hired Miami civil rights lawyer, Matthew Dietz, to represent her and her family for these claims as well.
We are currently living in a time where people feel emboldened and brag about their prejudices to those who they believe share their views. We also live in a time where it is perceived that such behavior is condoned. It is not. Ms. Washington and her children should be allowed to have an opportunity to live in the community without fear of discrimination or harassment.
According to the National Fair Housing Alliance 2019 Fair Housing Trends Report, the number of fair housing claims in 2018, 31,202, was the highest number of reported complaints of housing discrimination since NFHA began collecting this data in 1995. This represents an eight percent increase over complaints reported in 2017. Additionally, there was a startling uptick in hate activity after steady declines since the early 2000s. From 2016 to 2017, there was a 14.7 percent increase in hate crime offenses and a 13.7 percent increase in the number of reported victims of hate crimes. There was a 15.3 percent increase in the number of housing-related hate crimes.
A copy of the complaint which includes the texts and photos of the statements, and the finding from the City of Tampa is included here: Intervenor Complaint
The case is City of Tampa v. CTP Financial, Case No. 19-CA-012893 in the Circuit Court for the Thirteenth Judicial Circuit in Hillsborough County, Florida. It has been assigned to Circuit Court Judge Cheryl K. Thomas.