Local landlord accused of harassing Tulane students


Courtesy of Google Earth

Kelly owns 2324 Calhoun St. that has typically been rented by college students in the area.

After accusations of sexual misconduct erupted on social media, the Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center filed suit against local landlord Jerry Kelly, Jr. 

Kelly owns properties around New Orleans, including one in Uptown near Tulane’s campus.

“Mr. Kelly grabbed the buttocks of a woman during lease signing, entered a unit without notice while a tenant was showering, and exhibited a preference to rent to ‘young, skinny, white girls,’” the press release read.

In early 2017, Kelly faced allegations on housing-based social media platforms that outlined instances of sexual propositions and unannounced entries into properties.

A former leasing agent of Kelly contacted GNOFHAC later in the year outlining how he would  sell to women exclusively and harass several of these female tenants.

In response, GNOFHAC ran a series of interviews and test investigations that confirmed the landlord was discriminating on the basis of sex.

GNOFHAC Executive Director Cashauna Hill recognized Tulane students may be especially vulnerable to encountering issues such as this one.

“They may feel like they need to accept the first seemingly suitable house that they find,” Hill said. “I also think sometimes students may be new renters … and maybe not know about the laws that protect them … They may not even know what is illegal because of a lack of information that’s mostly driven by never having been a tenant before.”

Hill added she has found women of color, transgender women, immigrant women and young women are more at risk of experiencing sexual harassment. She also noted that, based off her experience in the field, this case is not an isolated incident.

“It’s important for students, as well as everyone, to understand that while we often think of sexual harassment and discrimination as a workplace issue, landlords are just as likely to abuse the power that they hold over current and prospective tenants,” Hill said.

Erica Woodley, dean of students in the Division of Student Affairs, encourages students to use the online reporting system (tulane.edu/concerns) so that administration is able to reach out directly to students and help address their concerns both long term and short term.

Woodley said a big challenge with cases like these is that many students have already signed leases that do not provide them with rights or alternative options.

“Over the years, we’ve had many issues with landlords, ranging from absenteeism, failure to fix things or deal with safety concerns expeditiously, and a variety of other issues,” Woodley said. “While we have not had reports of tenants experiencing sexual harassment by landlords, that is certainly something we would want to know about so we could support the students involved.”

Students who are in need of assistance can go contact the Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center at 504-596-2100 or contact Tulane’s Case Management & Victim Support Services at 504-314-2160. After hours, students can contact the Student Affairs on-call person at 504-920-9900. The Tulane Legal Assistance Program is also a resource that can be used to review leases and help with any landlord-tenant issue.

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