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Bill outlawing housing discrimination fails
     (RICHMOND,Va., Jan. 25, 2015) -- A senate committee on Monday killed a bill making it illegal for landlords to reject potential tenants based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.
     Senate Bill 917, sponsored by Sen. Jennifer Wexton, D-Leesburg, failed on a 7-7 tie vote in the Senate General Laws and Technology Committee. Six Democrats and one Republican voted for the bill; seven Republicans voted against it.
     Wexton, who sits on the committee, said the bill would have included sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination under the unlawful practices in the Virginia Fair Housing Law. FULL STORY at wydaily.com

HOA boards should tread carefully on assistance animals
     (CHARLOTTE,N.C., Jan. 24, 2015) -- We are often asked about pet restrictions in the context of homeowners’ associations (HOAs) and their enforceability with respect to assistance animals for persons with disabilities.
     An HOA’s governing documents often restrict the type, size, and quantity of pets allowed. Like all good rules, there are exceptions.
     In this case, they come in the form of the federal Fair Housing Act. The act, which prohibits discrimination based on race, color, religion, national origin, gender, disability, or familial status in the sale, rental, and financing of housing, mandates that HOAs provide reasonable accommodations to homeowners with disabilities.
     The act should not be confused with the American with Disabilities Act (ADA). The ADA governs only public spaces, including public housing. It is not applicable to HOAs in most cases, since most HOA-owned common areas are not places of “public accommodation.”
      FULL STORY at charlotteobserver.com

Area couple to speak on Fair Housing Act
     (TOLEDO, Ohio, Jan. 21, 2015) -- A Toledo couple will speak today on the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court about their experience with mortgage discrimination, the same day the court hears arguments that could affect criteria of the Fair Housing Act.
     Eric and Vonda Williams will speak about their experiences alongside others who will urge the court not to scale back protections under the Fair Housing Act. Also traveling to Washington is Diana Patton, vice president, chief operating officer, and general counsel for the Toledo Fair Housing Center.
     At issue in the case Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs vs. The Inclusive Community Project Inc. is whether plaintiffs in housing discrimination cases must prove discriminatory intent.
     This would be a higher hurdle than the current standard, known as disparate affect, which means plaintiffs must only prove a policy disproportionately negatively impacts a protected class. Discrimination is prohibited against protected classes, meaning lenders can’t discriminate based on race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, or national origin.
      FULL STORY at toledoblade.com

Vet, service dog evicted over unpaid pet fee
     (BANDERA, Texas, Jan. 16, 2015) -- A disabled Army veteran says he and his service dog were evicted from a Bandera mobile home last month, following a months-long dispute over an unpaid "pet fee."
     David Palasek, whose seven years of military service included tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan for the Army and the Army National Guard, was evicted Dec. 22.
     He refused to pay the pet fee, citing the Fair Housing Act, which protects people who use service dogs from being discriminated against.
     "If it's happening to me, it's going to happen to other people," said Palasek, who suffered a traumatic brain injury and injuries to his neck, spine, knee and shoulder in a Humvee accident and separate IED attack in Iraq. Palasek is also a cancer surviver, beating testicular cancer in recent years. FULL STORY at armytimes.com

Few details on Harrison affordable housing
     (WESTCHESTER, N.Y., Jan. 16, 2015) -- Federal housing monitor James Johnson on Thursday didn't get what he asked for from Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino: the location and number of affordable housing units in Harrison that will be among the 606 apartments under review in the town.
     But at least Johnson got a meeting.
     Westchester wants to convene one with those involved in the Metropolitan Transportation Authority's plan for 143 apartments at the Harrison train station, which is slated for what Harrison Supervisor Ron Belmont likes to call "luxury housing."
     It's too early to tell whether Johnson will be assuaged by the plan for a meeting with Belmont, Metro-North Railroad President Joseph Giulietti, Deputy County Executive Kevin Plunkett, and the developer's attorney, Mark Weingarten.
     "I have received correspondence from the county and expect to review it and continue my engagement with county leadership in the near term," Johnson said in an email message. FULL STORY at lohud.com

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