Richmond, VA

Fair housing audit reveals increased number of housing discrimination cases

October 08, 2008
Housing Opportunities Made Equal of Virginia, Inc. (HOME) Wednesday released its findings of a fair housing audit conducted over the past year. The audit, which evaluated treatment in the search for housing based on race, disability, and families with children, found that all seven cities in the Hampton Roads area had high levels of racial discrimination and barriers to access for people with disabilities.
     Testing was conducted in a controlled investigation in which individuals with specific, similar profiles inquired about the availability of a housing unit and documented the treatment and answers received. The findings of this audit identified the existence or application of various policies or practices which revealed discrimination and inequality of treatment based on the tester's race, disability, and familial status.
     A total of 165 tests conducted from March 2007 to August 2008 revealed discriminatory housing practices in all seven cities of the Hampton Roads region.

Testing for housing discrimination

October 01, 2007
Stephanie McIntosh’s job is to ask about apartments for rent or houses for sale.
     What happens next depends on the answer she gets.
     Landlords or real estate agents who treat McIntosh, who is black, differently from the way they treat white housing applicants — by declining to show her available apartments, for example — could become the target of a housing discrimination complaint.

Fair housing group files complaint over Manassas housing limits

January 11, 2006
A fair housing group says that an city ordinance in Manassas limits the ability of Latino households to live in the city.
     Housing Opportunities Made Equal has filed complaints with the U-S Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Virginia Fair Housing Office. It requests that the city be directed to take steps to fix the ordinance defining family in the city's zoning code.
     The restricts single-family homes to immediate relatives and bans extended family from living in the home. The city has said the measure was aimed narrowly at dealing with overcrowded housing.

Developer settles fair-housing suit

December 26, 2005
A Midwestern developer has agreed to improvements at 49 apartment complexes, including three in Virginia, to settle a federal lawsuit alleging violations of fair-housing and disability-rights laws.
     Michigan-based Edward Rose & Associates and several of its affiliates, including an Indianapolis-based company that managed the Virginia apartments, did not admit any wrongdoing but agreed to do the improvements, according to federal court documents.
     Rose also is setting up a $950,000 fund to pay individuals who may have a discrimination claim, and agreed to pay a $110,000 civil penalty.

Man accused of racial bias in house sale

April 22, 2005
The modest brick house, with its yard full of wilting tulips and rusted old cars, isn't a candidate for the pages of Better Homes and Gardens.
     But on a spring day in 2002, it was just what Nealie Pitts had in mind. She approached the owner, Rufus T. Matthews, and asked the price.
     According to court documents, Matthews said the house was selling for $83,000 — but that a deed restriction meant only whites were eligible to buy it.
     "I was hurt and angry, like he had slapped me in the face," Pitts, who is black, said in an e-mail.
     Nearly three years later, the Virginia Office of the Attorney General said it will soon take Matthews to court for the alleged fair housing law violation.

Statewide conference seeks to 'Open the Door' to more safe and affordable housing options in Virginia

November 04, 2004
The 2004 Governor's Housing Conference, Virginia's largest and most comprehensive affordable housing event of the year, will be held November 15 - 17 in Norfolk, Virginia. More than 800 of Virginia's leading affordable housing advocates, providers, and policy makers are expected to participate in the conference to discuss ways to make housing more affordable in Virginia.
     Opening Doors: Building a Better Future is the theme of this year's conference. The three-day event will feature workshops and sessions designed to help public and private sector representatives develop effective housing solutions in Virginia.
     "This conference helps keep the issue of safe and affordable housing at the forefront," said Secretary of Commerce and Trade Michael J. Schewel, honorary conference chairman of the conference. "Each year this conference sets the stage for new ideas and initiatives that help lead more Virginians to quality, affordable housing options."

Race discrimination charged at Richmond area Waffle House restaurants

September 29, 2004
Two African Americans filed lawsuits today in federal court in Richmond, charging they were ignored, denied service and treated rudely by white employees at Richmond area Waffle House restaurants while white customers were being greeted warmly, seated and served.
     The two complaints allege racial discrimination by Waffle House and a franchising company, Northlake Foods, Inc., that operates the local restaurants, in violation of federal civil rights laws that guarantee equal access to goods and services in public accommodations.
     Plaintiff Herbert Blowe, a 60-year-old Virginia native, entered a Waffle House at 6 a.m. in June 2003 and tried to order eggs and grits. He was ignored by white Waffle House waitresses, while white customers were welcomed, were served coffee, had their orders taken, and were served food. Mr. Blowe asked for the names of the waitresses and asked to speak with the manager, but was denied. The manager, who was white, finally appeared, but refused to give her name, the name of her supervisor or a phone number for Waffle House corporate headquarters.

Md. woman crowned Ms. Wheelchair America

July 31, 2004
Juliette Rizzo of Maryland was crowned Ms. Wheelchair America 2005 on Saturday, beating out contestants from 24 other states and the nation's capital for the right to represent the achievements of women with disabilities.
     Rizzo, 36, of Rockville, will travel the country for the next year as an advocate for the more than 50 million Americans with disabilities.
     Rizzo contracted a systemic infection when she was 3 years old, resulting in juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, scleroderma and fibromyalgia, program organizers said.

Va. judge resigns after racial remarks

March 04, 2004
A Virginia judge has resigned after the disclosure of racially charged remarks he wrote in an Internet chat room, including statements suggesting that blacks have a biological tendency toward violence.
     Richmond General District Judge Ralph B. Robertson stepped down after 19 years on the bench. He stopped hearing cases last week and filed for retirement, which is to take effect April 1.
     The Richmond Free Press, a weekly newspaper with a predominantly black readership, reported Thursday that Robertson endorsed the notion that "African-Americans are prone to crime and violence because it is in their genes" and agreed with another chat-room writer who said that some minorities are "people who have no regard for sanitation, courtesy, private property, etc."

Va. group says applications increased

July 08, 2002
The Virginia chapter of the Sons of Confederate Veterans says it is seeing a surge of applications for membership since it won a court fight to put the Rebel flag on state license plates.
     Only descendants of Confederate veterans are eligible for the specialty license plates.
     The Virginia chapter said membership applications have tripled since the state dropped its three-year court fight against the logo earlier this year.

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