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Comedian George Willborn Denied Home Due to Race

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By Laura Strachan, Esq. on August 12, 2010 1:41 PM

After having their $1.8 million Chicago house on the market for over two years, one would think that homeowners Daniel and Adrienne Sabbia would jump at the chance to finally sell their home to a local comedian and radio personality for close to their asking price. When George Willborn and his wife Peytyn agreed to purchase the Bridgeport neighborhood property for $1.7 million, the owners wouldn't sign the sales contract -- claiming that they changed their minds, and were taking the house off the market. Willborn suspected some other factors were at play.

George Willborn has filed a claim with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development charging the homeowners, their real estate agent, and a real estate broker with refusing to sell him a home based on his race -- a violation of the Fair Housing Act. The Wilburn's real estate agent is quoted by ABC News, "They are absolutely still reeling from this. It's hurtful, unacceptable in this day and age. You can't choose who you can sell your home to."

The complaint alleges that the Sabbias' researched the Willborns, noting that the internet search produced multiple images of the African-American George Willborn. HUD assistant secretary, John Trasvina adds, "this case is important because it shows that housing discrimination occurs at all income levels," reports Kansas City News.

Almost all forms of housing are covered under the Fair Housing Act, which also prevents housing discrimination on the basis of sex, religion, family status, and disability. If racial discrimination is found to be the motivating factor in this case, all parties could be forced to pay penalties to HUD, ranging from $25,000 to $50,000; in addition to damages (including humiliation and pain and suffering) to the Willborns.

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