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Myers Park HOA Pays $17,500 To Settle Dispute With NAACP

In an update on a story we first reported a year ago, WFAE has learned the Myers Park Homeowners Association has agreed to pay $17,500 to settle a dispute with the NAACP. At issue was racial language included in a sample of a property deed the Myers Park HOA posted on its website. The document said the property could be purchased by someone of "the Caucasian race only." Such wording is common in deeds written prior to the 1960s, but courts have ruled the restrictions cannot be enforced. North Carolina NAACP President William Barber filed a complaint with the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Community Relations Committee saying Myers Park should have omitted the racist language when it posted the deed. "If you saw that, it could in fact create what we call freezing, making people think twice about buying," said Barber in 2010. "It could create psychic harm - 'what in the world is this?' It could create discouragement." Myers Park HOA officials immediately took the discriminatory language off its website. But the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Community Relations Committee ruled the Myers Park HOA had violated the Fair Housing Act by posting the deed online. The HOA was ordered to work out a deal with the NAACP, or end up in court opposite the city. Community Relations Committee executive director Willie Ratchford says the city gets 50 or 60 housing discrimination complaints a year. The Myers Park dispute had a higher profile than most, though Ratchford says the settlement of $17,500 isn't the largest. "We've had cases where the settlement has been less and we've had cases where the settlement has been substantially more," says Ratchford. "I think because it was the NAACP and Myers Park it attracted more attention than our cases normally do. We've had cases in which the allegations were a lot worse than they were here and those cases did not attract attention." Ratchford says most of the fair housing complaints handled by the city come from people who were rejected by a landlord because of their race, nationality, or because they have children.