A black homeowner who has run a home based business since 2003 is now being pressured to close up shop thanks to a decades old, racist rule.
James Mosbey has been running a personal health and nutrition business, as well as a car wash, from his Texas home since he moved into the neighborhood in 2003.
For over 10 years, Mosbey has advertised his business with billboards posted outside his home. Up until recently, there hadn’t been any complaints, but in 2013, neighbors began trying to force him to close his business.
In January of 2013, the Northwood Park Civic Association, a group whose mission it is to “preserve the unique character of the subdivision as a desirable residential neighborhood,” told Mosbey that he was violating deed restrictions by running a business out of his home. In August of that same year, the organization filed suit against Mosbey to demand that he close the business.
Mosbey responded in 2014 by filing a complaint with the civil rights division of the Texas Workforce Commission, noting that there were three white people who ran businesses within the Northwood Park subdivision.
The commission then filed a lawsuit against the neighborhood group on behalf of Mosbey in Harris County last week:
“[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.”
There is a deed from the 1950s that the Northwood Park Civic Association is using to force Mosbey out. It includes a restriction for business owners, but is unconstitutional since it restricts “any person other than of the Caucasian race” from living or owning property in the neighborhood.”
A spokesperson for the Northwood Park Civic Association denies that race played a role in their decision.
“We certainly deny that there’s any racial discrimination in what we’ve attempted to do here in our neighborhood.”