*Comedian George Wilborn, co-host of the nationally syndicated radio program “The Michael Baisden Show,” says he and his family are the victims of housing discrimination in Chicago after sellers of a $1.7 million home allegedly shut down the deal upon discovering he is black.
The Department of Housing and Urban Development announced Tuesday that it had filed an administrative complaint against homeowners Daniel and Adrienne Sabbia, real estate agent Jeffrey Lowe and prominent Chicago real estate firm Prudential Rubloff Properties. The agency charged that they violated the Fair Housing Act when the Sabbias backed out of a verbal agreement to sell their home to the Willborns, who are African-American.
Despite agreeing on a $1.7 million purchase price for the home Jan. 4, the Sabbias never signed a purchase contract. According to the complaint, Lowe told the Willborns’ agent, Dylcia Cornelious, on Jan. 11 that the Sabbias had changed their minds and were taking the home off the market, despite it being listed for sale for almost two years.
“By refusing to sign the sales contract,” HUD said in its complaint, the Sabbias “committed unlawful discrimination” by refusing to sell the home to the Willborns “after the making of a bona fide offer because of their race, African-American.”
According to the complaint, during the negotiation process, Lowe told Cornelious that his sellers had researched the Willborns. The complaint noted that Internet searches of George Willborn produced numerous images of him.
The Willborns filed a complaint with HUD on Jan. 29, and after receiving the complaint, HUD said the Sabbias on Feb. 1 offered to sell the home and all its furniture to the Willborns for $1.799 million. The Willborns declined.
“I was appalled,” Willborn told the Chicago Tribune. “The feeling that my entire family has, it’s hard to describe. You’re talking about 2010. I don’t know if people realize it, but we elected an African-American president, so it’s not asking too much to be able to live where we want to live.”
Built in 2006, the 8,000-square-foot home in Chicago’s Bridgeport neighborhood had large closets for his wife, Peytyn, an outdoor basketball court for their 12-year-old son, a private bathroom for their 19-year-old daughter and a home theater room that was to become Willborn’s “man cave,” notes the Chicago Sun-Times. They made an offer on the $1.799 million home the day they saw it in early January.
“It was what we considered to be a dream house,” said Willborn.