Landlord cited in discrimination complaint

February 18, 2015
The Indiana Civil Rights Commission has issued a charge against a Lafayette landlord for allegedly violating the state's civil and fair housing laws by showing a preference to renters without disabled children, according to a reasonable cause finding issued Jan. 16.
     On Oct. 1, Lisa Rodriguez of Lafayette filed a housing discrimination complaint with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, which assigned it to the commission, the enforcer of the state's civil rights laws, to investigate.
     She alleges that Roy Hanover denied her the opportunity to view a rental property and apply to rent because of her son's disability, according to the complaint.
     Rodriguez has declined to further comment.

Housing enforcement group sues M&T Bank for discrimination

February 09, 2015
One of the nation's largest banks discriminates against black, Latino and Asian homebuyers by offering lesser qualified white borrowers higher loan amounts and using hidden racial criteria in one of its loan programs, according to a lawsuit filed this week in federal court in Manhattan. The suit also accuses the bank of steering homebuyers to certain neighborhoods based on their race or ethnciity.
     The lawsuit claims that M&T Bank violated the landmark Fair Housing Act, a 1968 law that sought to end discriminatory lending practices and limit the historic segregation of many of the country's cities. The suit was filed by the Fair Housing Justice Center, a New York City-based non-profit organization that is funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to enforce the federal law that bans housing discrimination.

Service dog aides mental illness

February 08, 2015
Junior Ellen Chaleff’s dog, a Dachshund/rat terrier mix named Fred, is there when she wakes up in the morning. He’s there, wearing an NYPD coat, when she walks between classes. He’s there when she sits in class, when she eats at the dining hall, when she’s at Ultimate Frisbee practice and when she goes to bed at night.
     And if Chaleff has a panic attack, he’s also there, curled up on her lap until it passes.
     The first service dog for mental illness on campus, Fred has been at Notre Dame with Chaleff since last Halloween. Chaleff, who began showing symptoms of bipolar disorder in high school, said she found out about him after he was rescued from an abusive home. He already had training as an emotional support dog, making him easier to train further as a service animal. Professionals trained him to help with bipolar disorder, and Chaleff said she did the rest.

Civil rights leader on Selma, voting rights and what's next

February 08, 2015
The film "Selma" has brought story of the struggle for voting rights to a new generation, but some from the generation that led the march says its portrayal of President Lyndon B. Johnson misses the mark.
     "LBJ is treated as an enemy of the Civil Rights movement, and LBJ was the best Civil Rights president America has every had," said Julian Bond, who helped found the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee during the 1960s and served as the organization's communications director. Bond says the says the movie also unfairly impugns the role of student organizers, however, "With those exceptions it's a movie that every American should see."
     A student and close associate of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Bond was elected to the Georgia House of Representatives in 1965 and later to the Georgia Senate. Bond served as president of the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), which he helped found, and chaired the National Organization for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) until 2010.

Does half of Louisville really live in ‘EXTREME SEGREGATION’?

February 04, 2015
No… or maybe. Either way we have a problem with residential segregation that we need to address.
     Earlier this month the Louisville Metro Human Relations Commission released an action plan for fair housing that lays out steps for improving access to housing and increasing housing choice for the people of Louisville. The plan pulls together a lot of great thinking on policies for minimizing discrimination in housing and is prefaced by a really interesting look at the housing history of Louisville. The report was put together by the great folks at the Anne Braden Institute for Social Justice Research with work on the action steps by the Metropolitan Housing Coalition.
     As a community, we need tools that make the case for why action on fair housing is so important for Louisville– so I understand why the action plan puts a particular statistic front and center – 45% percent of Louisville residents live in extreme racial segregation – a statistic like this is very powerful and speaks to very real experiences – it makes for a really great sound bite or headline – the only problem is that the underlying data is from almost 15 years ago (continued below the map).
     

Melissa Harris-Perry Is Ringing the alarm on the Supreme Court’s decision on fair housing in America

January 27, 2015
The U.S. Supreme Court is reviewing the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs v. The Inclusive Communities Project, Inc. case for the third time and news anchor Melissa Harris-Perry thinks we should all be “very afraid.”
     This case has somewhat challenges the Fair Housing Act of 1968 that determined no one could be denied a place to live based on their race, culture, religion, and today, sexual orientation. The above case however is a reflection of that law 45 years later. “When the court rules on this case…it could be amongst one of the most historic and consequential choices ever made about an issue at the heart of American lives and dreams…the place we call home,” Harris-Perry said this weekend on her “Melissa Harris-Perry Show.”

Mapping the future while preserving the past in Louisville’s most historic black neighborhood

January 27, 2015
Pamela Hines wants big changes for west Louisville’s historic Russell neighborhood.
     Hines, who lives in Parkland, opened Sweet Peaches restaurant next to the African-American Heritage Center at 18th Street and Muhammad Ali Boulevard in February 2014. But nearly a year in, the first-time business owner is getting anxious about the lack of growth and progress in the West End.
     “Nothing has changed,” she says. “It’s all the same as far as no new businesses and boarded-up houses. I haven’t seen anyone else come, and I don’t think there’s anyone outside myself who has taken a chance.”
     Attracting entrepreneurs and new private capital are among the goals of city and federal officials, and civic leaders, who proudly announced earlier this month that Louisville was one of six cities to receive a federal Choice Neighborhood planning grant.

Bill outlawing housing discrimination fails

January 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.

HOA boards should tread carefully on assistance animals

January 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.”
     

Area couple to speak on Fair Housing Act

January 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.
     

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