James Mosbey had been running his personal training and nutritional counseling business in his Northwood Park home for a decade. But the subdivision’s civic association, which never removed a segregation restriction based on race, shut down Mosbey’s business, claiming he could not post signage in his yard.
The grounds for Mosbey’s suit is racial discrimination, as there were three other home-businesses in the neighborhood run by whites, and they were not forced to close their doors.
The Texas Workforce Commission is accusing the Northwood Park Civic Association of racial discrimination. According to the Houston Press, the group began trying to shut down Mosbey’s livelihood in January 2013, saying that deed restrictions did not allow him to display signage.
But Mosbey would not give in, and the neighborhood group convinced Harris County to file a lawsuit against him. By August of 2013, Mosbey was forced to close his businesses.
Mosbey responded last year by filing a civil rights complaint with the Texas Workforce Commission.
In a lawsuit filed last week, the commission accused the Northwood Park Civic Association of racially discriminating against Mosbey because it had not enforced the same restrictions against white business owners.
“[T]hrough investigation, TCW-CRD learned that three white residents operate businesses within the Northwood Park subdivision, two of whom have yard signage, but the Northwood Park Civic Association has not sought to enforce restrictive covenants against them by causing them to be contacted regarding their signage or home businesses,” the lawsuit noted.
In addition to rules against operating businesses, it does not help the home owners association that Rule 21 of the “Article & Bylaws” of Northwood Park states that “[n]o lot in said Subdivision nor any interest therein shall ever be sold, leased or rented to, or occupied by any person other than the Caucasian race.”
Documents on the Northwood Park Civic Association website showed that the group made an effort to change the 1957 racist restriction in 2004. But more than a decade later, the group still has not collected enough signatures to vote the restriction out of the bylaws.
“The 1957 deed restrictions protect the homeowners from those that would mutate a diverse residential neighborhood into a conglomeration of shops, non-residential storage and car lots, junk yards, trucking companies, trailers, and mobile homes that would ruin a residential neighborhood’s desirability and destroy the quality of life of the residents,” the newsletter said.
It went on to point out that the proposed amendments would “eliminate the discrimination clause #21 and preserve residential lots as single family dwellings not community property.”
“We continue to gather signatures of approval so the proposed changes can be finalized.”