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Complaints filed alleging housing bias in Oak Park
     (OAK PARK, Ill., July 24, 2014) -- HOPE Fair Housing Center's director announced Wednesday that the organization has filed complaints against five Oak Park housing agencies alleging rental discrimination – though officials said the group does not plan to name the agencies.
     The announcement came during a meeting of the Oak Park Fair Housing Task Force, which was created earlier this year after HOPE released results of a study that found significant discrimination against African-American and disabled renters in Oak Park. The task force has pressed for more information about the study, which did not name the agencies that were tested.
     HOPE sent black and white, disabled and non-disabled testers in 2013 to inquire about available apartments and then compared the way different people were treated, HOPE Executive Director Anne Houghtaling said. FULL STORY at chicagotribune.com

Foreclosed homes in non-white areas get fewer repairs, complaint says
     (BALTIMORE, July 23, 2014) -- A national housing advocacy group looking at vacant foreclosed homes being maintained by Fannie Mae contractor Cyprexx Services LLC say there are stark and systematic differences, comparing the company’s performance in white vs. non-white neighborhoods.
     “You rarely see a boarded-up window in a white neighborhood,” said Shanna L. Smith, of National Fair Housing Alliance (NFHA), which has filed a four-state complaint with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development against Florida-based Cyprexx. The properties may be vacant, she said, but they are well-kept.
     By contrast, in non-white areas, the group found not only boarded windows but weeds, dead shrubs and tall grass, unsecured doors, broken steps and railings, holes, vermin and piles of trash. The trend was most pronounced in Baltimore, although the group also looked at Kansas City, Orlando, Fla., and Richmond, Va. FULL STORY at baltimorebrew.com

U.S. Homeownership riskier for many African-Americans, says Rice study -
     (MIAMI, Fla., July 23, 2014) -- Based on a new study from sociologists at Rice University and Cornell University found that while historical barriers that excluded Black America from the homeowner market for decades have crumbled, there are new signs that emerging types of racial inequality are making homeownership an increasingly risky investment for African-American home seekers.
     The reason: African-Americans are now 45 percent more likely than whites to switch from owning their homes to renting them.
     The study, "Emerging Forms of Racial Inequality in Homeownership Exit, 1968-2009," examines racial inequality in transitions out of homeownership over the last four decades. The authors used longitudinal household data from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics for the period 1968 to 2009, with a study sample of 6,994 non-Hispanic whites and 3,158 black homeowners. FULL STORY at worldpropertychannel.com

Section 8 experiment under review
     (LOUISVILLE, Ky., July 22, 2014) -- The Louisville Metro Housing Authority is reevaluating a plan that would implement a $75 monthly rent for randomly selected Section 8 participants after housing advocates called the proposed study unfair.
     The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development asked the housing authority to participate in the study, which is designed to stretch public housing dollars and encourage more household heads to get jobs.
     Families who take part in the study wouldn't be at risk of a rent increase for three years, even if their pay increased.
     But the experiment is being criticized for randomly selecting the participants, who wouldn't get a chance to opt out unless they can demonstrate a hardship. FULL STORY at courier-journal.com

Low-income homes, homeless programs in Knoxville get $768K in funding
     (KNOXVILLE, Tenn., July 22, 2014) -- The Knoxville City Council approved six contracts Tuesday night with various local agencies to provide services for low-income residents and the homeless.
     Those agreements totaled $768,805 with more than half of that amount coming from federal grant dollars. All of those agreements were budgeted by Mayor Madeline Rogero and will not increase the city’s current spending plan, said Becky Wade, director of the Community Development Department.
     “This is funding part of the plan to address homelessness in Knoxville, which was presented some time ago and we talked about,” City Councilman Finbarr Saunders said.
     For the homeless, the Volunteer Ministry Center, Knoxville-Knox County Community Action Committee and Knoxville’s Community Development Corp. will sign two agreements totaling $242,500 for case management services. FULL STORY at knoxnews.com

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