Blacks turned away from housing—again

May 06, 2015
The Housing Opportunities Project for Excellence, otherwise known as HOPE Inc., has filed two federal lawsuits against Creek Club and Nile Gardens apartments alleging racial discrimination.
     HOPE is a Florida nonprofit corporation that engages in testing for fair housing law violations and fights against discriminatory housing practices. It is funded by the United States Dept. of Housing and Urban Development (U.S. HUD).
     HOPE’s investigation of Creek Club Apartments, located at 1434 NW 19th Terr. in Allapattah, and Nile Gardens Apartments, located at 12750 NW 27th Ave., in Opa-locka, included a series of tests, where representatives from HOPE visited each of the apartments to inquire about prices and availability. In each situation for both locations, black testers who posed as applicants were consistently told that units were not available. Later in the same day, Hispanic testers, who also posed as applicants, were told that units were available and they were taken to see the apartments.

Justice Department reaches $475,000 settlement with Beaumont, Texas, to resolve disability discrimination in housing lawsuit

May 05, 2015
The Justice Department today announced that the city of Beaumont, Texas, has agreed to pay $475,000 and change its zoning and land use practices to resolve a lawsuit alleging that it discriminated against persons with intellectual or developmental disabilities who sought to live in small group homes in the city’s residential neighborhoods. The consent decree must still be approved by the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas. The lawsuit, filed on May 26, 2015, alleged that the city violated the Fair Housing Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act when it imposed a one-half mile spacing rule that prohibited many small group homes from operating in Beaumont.
     The suit further sought to prohibit the city from imposing fire code requirements that exceeded those imposed by the state of Texas as part of its certification and funding of such homes. These restrictions prohibited numerous persons with intellectual or developmental disabilities from living in Beaumont and resulted in the institutionalization in a nursing home of a woman who was forced to move out of her home.
     Although the city alleged that its restrictions were justified by a Texas statute, the state of Texas later clarified in a statement it submitted to the court during the litigation that neither the spacing requirement nor the heightened fire code requirements were required by Texas law. Under the terms of the consent decree, the city will allow small group homes to operate in any residential district and will not subject such homes to fire code requirements that exceed the state’s requirements for certification of such homes.
     The city will also pay $435,000 in monetary damages to 11 individuals with disabilities, their family members and companion care providers who were subject to the city’s discriminatory code enforcement practices. The city will also pay $15,000 to the United States as a civil penalty and $25,000 to Disability Rights Texas, the organization that represents the individuals who filed the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) complaints and intervened in the United States’ lawsuit.

HUD charges Santa Fe, NEW MEXICO, Property owners with discrimination against tenant with diabilities

May 04, 2015
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced today that it is charging a Santa Fe, New Mexico landlord with housing discrimination for refusing to allow a renter with disabilities to keep her emotional support animal and to have her daughter reside with her. HUD’s charge further alleges that Paula Anderson threatened to evict the woman if she did not get rid of her support animal and have her daughter move out. The woman’s daughter provided her with disability-related assistance.
     The Fair Housing Act makes it unlawful to refuse to make reasonable accommodations in policies or practices when a person with a disability requires such accommodations, including refusing to allow a live-in aide and refusing to grant waivers to “no-pet” policies for persons who require assistance or support animals. Additionally, the law makes it unlawful to make housing unavailable to any person because of a disability.
     “Housing providers need to understand that support animals are not pets, they provide persons with disabilities the stability needed to perform life’s everyday activities,” said Gustavo Velasquez, HUD Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity. “The Fair Housing Act requires housing providers to grant reasonable accommodations and HUD is committed to taking action if they fail to meet that obligation.”

Housing discrimination ‘uniquely damaging’

April 23, 2015
This year commemorates the 47th anniversary of the U.S. Fair Housing Act as well as the Kentucky Fair Housing law, both of which were passed in 1968. Because of these laws, housing discrimination is illegal.
     Housing discrimination is uniquely damaging in that it takes away a person’s sense of safety in his or her own home. It is important that all of us as responsible members of society remain vigilant in addressing both the blatant and subtle forms of housing discrimination that tear at the national fabric.
     Because of the Fair Housing Act and Kentucky’s Fair Housing Law, it is unlawful to discriminate against any person who seeks to rent or own housing, based on the person’s color, disability, familial status (whether one lives with children under 18 years of age of whether a woman living in the household is pregnant), national origin, race, religion or sex. Federal and Kentucky fair housing laws provide equal opportunity to all people when buying, selling, renting, financing or insuring housing. People have the right to buy or rent where they choose a home, condominium, apartment, trailer or lot. Everyone must obey the law, including property owners, property managers, real estate brokers, sales agents, operators, builders and developers, advertisers and advertising media, mortgage lenders, insurers, and banks or other financial institutions.

Feds accuse Minnesota landlord of housing discrimination

April 22, 2015
A federal housing agency alleges a Twin Cities property manager refused to rent to Hmong family members.
     The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development announced the allegations Wednesday.
     The agency alleges Page Edmunds and his business, Renter's Avenue, located in Champlin, made discriminatory statements to the family because of their national origin, and retaliated against them for exercising their fair housing rights.

Despite 'troubling' fair-housing results, Portland to cut back on testing

April 21, 2015
A new report confirms that black and Latino renters continue to face disproportionate barriers in Portland's rental market four years after city officials pledged to eliminate housing discrimination.
     Undercover testing determined that landlords gave preferential treatment to white prospective renters in 12 of 25 cases, or 48 percent of tests, according to results released Tuesday by the Portland Housing Bureau.
     The testing also found that people with disabilities and families with children faced barriers but at levels far below those for people of color. Testing found differential treatment in seven of 26 cases, or 27 percent of tests. (See full results at the end of this story)

Housing Discrimination and housing segregation take away sense of safety in one’s own home

April 20, 2015
This year commemorates the 47th anniversary of the U.S. Fair Housing Act as well as the Kentucky Fair Housing law, both of which were passed in 1968. Because of these laws, housing discrimination is illegal.
     Housing discrimination is uniquely damaging in that it takes away a person’s sense of safety in his or her own home. It is important that all of us as responsible members of society remain vigilant in addressing both the blatant and subtle forms of housing discrimination that tear at the national fabric.
     Because of the Fair Housing Act and Kentucky’s Fair Housing Law, it is unlawful to discriminate against any person who seeks to rent or own housing, based on the person’s color, disability, familial status (whether one lives with children under 18 years of age of whether a woman living in the household is pregnant), national origin, race, religion or sex. Federal and Kentucky fair housing laws provide equal opportunity to all people when buying, selling, renting, financing or insuring housing. People have the right to buy or rent where they choose a home, condominium, apartment, trailer or lot. Everyone must obey the law, including property owners, property managers, real estate brokers, sales agents, operators, builders and developers, advertisers and advertising media, mortgage lenders, insurers, and banks or other financial institutions.

What happens when marijuana is legal and HOA rules are hazy?

April 20, 2015
More than 20 U.S. states allow certain people to grow, sell, possess or use marijuana to varying degrees and for various purposes, although federal law still classifies weed as an illegal drug.
     Given that contradiction, what rules apply to people who live in condominiums or communities governed by a homeowners association?
     The answer isn't, shall we say, cut and dried.
     Consider Colorado, which attorney Suzanne Leff says is "kind of at the frontier on these issues." Leff is a partner at Winzenburg, Leff, Purvis & Payne, a Littleton, Colorado, law firm that represents homeowners associations.
     Even within this marijuana-friendly state, "each association has to decide on the approach to take based on what the documents allow, what's feasible and what the community's needs are," Leff says. Even then, she adds, "there are a variety of approaches taken.
     

Bowling Green surveys fair housing in the city

April 20, 2015
The city of Bowling Green is currently conducting a study on the subject of fair housing. Known as the "Analysis of Impediments to Fair Housing Choice," the study is required by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development as a condition for receiving federal housing and community development funds.
     The goals of the study are to identify whether barriers to fair housing choice exist in the city of Bowling Green in the rental and real estate markets and the mortgage lending, insurance, and appraisal industries. The study also examines private and public policies and practices that may intentionally or inadvertently lead to housing discrimination.
     The process includes soliciting the opinions of people involved in the housing industry, including renters and homeowners.

Tucson businessman accused of deceptive practices

April 18, 2015
The Arizona Attorney General’s Office is investigating a Tucson businessman and several of his housing companies that it says are engaged in deceptive rent-to-own practices.
     David Kinas, owner of several rent-to-own operations, has been doing business in Tucson for more than three decades, during which time he was named a finalist for the Better Business Bureau’s Ethics in Business award in 2006.
     In that time, however, Kinas has left a trail of unhappy clients who took their cases to court and two state attorneys general who found his business tactics questionable.

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