DELRAY BEACH – Adrienne Frasier, a single mother of three children, has filed a housing discrimination complaint after being evicted from the Villas D’Este development in Delray Beach. The family had rented a luxury apartment there for more than three and a half years before being evicted after one of Frasier’s sons allegedly threw candy wrappers onto the ground.
The development’s managers did not respond to calls seeking comments, but court documents confirm that the discarded candy wrappers prompted the eviction.
“On April 20, 2008, around 6:00 p.m. a member of Villas D’Este management witnessed one of your children throw a candy wrapper into the bushes at the front of the leasing office,” reads an April 25, seven-day notice of eviction placed on the door of
Frasier’s apartment. “When she went outside to tell him to pick it up, she noticed about 10 more wrappers thrown in the same area.”
“Demand is hereby made that you vacate your apartment seven days from the delivery of this notice,” it further commands.
The notice also cited a previous incident in which two of Frasier’s boys, ages 10 and 12, were allegedly playing football in the street and helping another child build a makeshift bicycle ramp.
“This is all frivolous. Just ridiculous,” said Frasier, a 42-year-old businesswoman and mother of three boys. “If all of the kids had gotten eviction notices, that would still be odd, but only mine were accused and received the notices. It makes no sense and there is no other explanation than it is because we are black. Plain and simple,” she charged.
The racial makeup of the development’s tenants was not immediately known, and management did not provide any data. Frasier, however said she can recall seeing only one other black family there.
Frasier on June 5 filed a complaint with Palm Beach County’s Office of Equal Opportunity, alleging housing discrimination.
“We do not confirm or deny if any complaint has been filed and will only discuss closed cases,” explained Pamela Guerrier, manager of Palm Beach County’s Office of Equal Opportunity.
Guerrier said because the process to determine if a complaint has merit is an involved one, it is difficult to say exactly how long it might take the agency to complete its procedure.
Nevertheless, the complaint accuses Villas D’Este’s managers and its parent company, 125 Via D’Este Apartment Investors, LLC, of discriminating in “terms, conditions, privileges, or services and facilities, harassment, and discriminatory refusal to renew a lease.”
Villas D’Este is a sprawling development, with tennis courts, a fitness center, swimming pools, and other amenities. The grounds are lush, and manicured with curvy streets that are spotless.
Frasier pays $2,223 a month in rent for a two-level, 2,500-square-foot, three bedroom, two-bathroom apartment that also has two, one-car garages.
“We have never been late on our rent or caused any trouble,” she insisted.
Letters from the development’s managers and documents filed in Palm Beach County court seeking the family’s eviction, however, also accused her children of playing in restricted areas, using profanity, and making obscene gestures toward staff during two previous incidents.
Frasier, the owner of a residential cleaning service, said she and her children have lived in the luxury development since February 2005 and had no problems until earlier this year.
“When they brought in new managers and new people moved in next to us, that’s when things began to change,” she suggested. “I don’t expect anyone to raise my children. That’s why I take action whenever I hear they may have done anything wrong or violated any rules, but this is ridiculous,” she explained.
Managers at Villas D’Este declined to discuss the matter and a person there who answered the phone during one attempt to get a response, said, “Speak to our attorneys.”
Ryan R. McCain, a lawyer with the Barfield, PA firm of West Palm Beach, is representing the development. McCain did not respond to calls, faxes or emails sent seeking comment.
Through her attorney, Frasier on June 19 reached a settlement with her landlord in which she agreed to withdraw her discrimination complaint and move out no later than July 30 in exchange for the development’s withdrawing its eviction lawsuit.
“I have told them I am backing out of that agreement. I have found a new place, but I fully intend to follow through with the discrimination complaint,” she vowed. “If my children were playing football in a restricted area, then what about the other children who are white?”
Frasier said neighbors have informed her that managers have now begun questioning them about her kids. Frasier said she is getting letters from her children’s teachers and those neighbors to dispute the management’s allegations against her children.
The family’s new digs are located in the same general neighborhood, and the rent is higher, but Frasier said she could not take the chance of having her belongings thrown into the streets.
“I have a business to run, and the stress is unbelievable. We will finish moving out this weekend, and I will focus on the complaint, because this is not right,” she said.
Photo by Elgin Jones/SFT Staff. Adrienne Frasier, left, with son, Andrew, 10, have been evicted from their Delray Beach home.