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Bill would transfer Wyoming housing discrimination complaints to state, nonprofits
     (CHEYENNE, Wyo., March 26, 2015) -- The House of Representatives advanced a housing anti-discrimination bill Thursday that sponsors say would let the state or local agencies investigate claims of unfair treatment.
     Currently, Wyoming falls under federal law that prohibits discrimination, said Rep. Tom Walters, R-Casper, a co-sponsor of Senate File 132.
     SF132 would be similar to the federal law, prohibiting discrimination because of race, color, religion, sex, disability, familial status or national origin, Walters said FULL STORY at trib.com

Alleged discrimination lawsuit at Kansas and Missouri apartment complexes settled
     (KANSAS CITY, Mo., March 25, 2015) -- The Justice Department announced Tuesday that Brisben Chimney Hills Limited Partnership and JRK Residential America LLC, the owners and the former manager of the Reserve apartment complex in Lenexa, Kansas, together with their named partner and agents, have agreed to pay $170,000 to settle a lawsuit alleging violations of the Fair Housing Act (FHA). The lawsuit alleged that defendants instituted policies at the Reserve and at other properties in Kansas and Missouri that discriminated against families with children. The lawsuit also alleged that a family was forced to leave the Reserve after they complained to management about the overly-restrictive policies.
     Under the proposed consent decree, which must still be approved by the U.S. District Court of Kansas, the defendants will pay $60,000 to the family that initiated the original complaint filed with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), $100,000 into a victim fund to compensate other aggrieved families and $10,000 to the United States as a civil penalty. In addition, the proposed consent decree prohibits the defendants from discriminating in the future against families with children and requires the defendants to receive training on the requirements of the FHA. FULL STORY at infozine.com

Lexington's handling of homeless shelter to be investigated by U.S. Justice Department
     (LEXINGTON, Ky., March 23, 2015) -- An investigation into whether Lexington violated federal fair housing laws when the city revoked a permit for a homeless shelter has been turned over to the U.S. Department of Justice, according to documents provided to the Herald-Leader.
     Earlier this month, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development sent a letter to the city and those who filed the complaint that the case — under HUD investigation for two years — has been turned over to the Department of Justice's Civil Rights Division.
     The letter, dated March 10, doesn't say why the complaint has been referred to the Department of Justice. It only says HUD is authorized to refer any matter involving the legality of "any zoning or land use ordinance" to that agency for review. The letter is signed by Carlos Osegueda, the HUD regional director of the Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity.
      FULL STORY at kentucky.com

Yale Law Clinic seeks relief for homeowners burdened with underwater second mortgages
     (NEW HAVEN, Conn., March 23, 2015) -- The Mortgage Foreclosure Litigation Clinic at Yale Law School, along with the Connecticut Fair Housing Center (CFHC), has filed an Amicus Brief with the Supreme Court of the United States in support of Respondents, David Caulkett and Edelmiro Toledo-Cardona, in Bank of America v. Caulkett. The case presents the question of whether wholly underwater second mortgages can be voided in bankruptcy as unsecured liens. The question of second mortgages is especially pertinent in Connecticut. Hartford, Connecticut, holds the dubious distinction of being the “most underwater” city in the nation, with a negative equity rate of 56%*. Connecticut is also home to three other cities in the top one hundred towns with the highest negative equity in the country, including New Haven. The Supreme Court’s ruling in Caulkett has the potential to affect the many Connecticut residents with underwater second mortgages by providing a helpful alternative to foreclosure for resolving their mortgage troubles, according to the clinic.
     The Mortgage Foreclosure Clinic provides legal assistance to individuals who cannot afford private counsel. The Clinic has been representing homeowners fighting foreclosure in Connecticut since 2008. The Clinic has also filed amici briefs with appellate courts in several states and its members have testified before the Connecticut legislature on foreclosure policy. FULL STORY at law.yale.edu

Human rights panel finds grounds for discrimination in Camden housing case
     (AUGUSTA, Maine, March 23, 2015) -- A divided Maine Human Rights Commission voted Monday morning that there were reasonable grounds to believe a Camden rental company refused to rent a home to a Bangor family because some members of the household were black.
     The commission voted 3-2 to find reasonable grounds against Megunticook Realty Corp. and co-owner Jeffrey Weymouth in a case filed by Shirley Kelderhouse and Shaun Patton of Bangor. The commission staff will now work with the two sides to reach a settlement. If none is reached, the commission will authorize Kelderhouse to file a civil lawsuit against the business and its owner.
     Co-owner Rosemary Weymouth said Monday after the vote that she and her husband would not settle the case.
     “I don’t believe in paying anything for something we didn’t do,” she said. FULL STORY at bangordailynews.com

Westchester to pursue HUD for held-back grants
     (WASHINGTON, March 17, 2015) -- Westchester County wants a court order to prevent three years’ worth of federal grants tagged for local municipalities from being spent elsewhere until a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development is decided.
     The county is challenging HUD’s authority to withhold or deny a number of annual grants due to what the department views as noncompliance with the terms of a 2009 affordable housing settlement. An appeals court ruled last month that the county could pursue legal action challenging HUD’s authority and seek $750,000 left from $7.4 million in 2011 grants that were largely redistributed outside the county by HUD.
     County lawmakers voted Monday to also seek what is left from grants withheld by HUD between 2012 and 2014 and to prevent the department from giving any of the money to other programs before the case is ruled upon. FULL STORY at lohud.com

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