Atlanta, GA

Blacks in New Orleans experience rampant housing discrimination

November 08, 2014
Blacks who were qualified to rent in high-opportunity New Orleans neighborhoods were denied or received less-than-favorable treatment compared to whites with similar profiles, according to a report by the Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center.
     The Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center sent testers in to neighborhoods and found that 44 percent of the time the Black testers were treated less favorably than the white testers. The neighborhoods they tested in were at least 70 percent white, according to The Times Picayune, while the citywide average for New Orleans is 34 percent. The neighborhoods had better schools and an average household income of $69,000 compared to the city average of $36,600.
     The report cited four tests where Black testers made inquiries that went without a response, while the same housing provider contacted the white testers who inquired about the property.

Suit filed to stop alleged loan scams operation targeting African Americans

February 21, 2013
On February 15, 2013, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law (Lawyers’ Committee) and pro bono counsel King & Spalding filed a lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, Atlanta Division, against a purported loan modification company and other individuals. The case is brought on behalf of 18 African American plaintiffs, 17 of whom live in the Atlanta metro region and one who lives in Alabama. The suit alleges that the defendants, who operate in the metro Atlanta area, defrauded African American homeowners by inducing them to pay up to thousands of dollars in up-front fees for mortgage loan modification services that were never provided. Plaintiffs seek both monetary damages, including recovery of the illegal up-front fees, and injunctive relief to put an end to the defendants’ deceptive practices. The Lawyers’ Committee and King & Spalding are representing the plaintiffs free of charge. (Click here to view Complaint.)
     “This case provides a sad example of how minority communities have been hit hard by foreclosure rescue scams and, in some cases, targeted for such scams,” said Linda Mullenbach, senior counsel, Fair Housing and Fair Lending Project of the Lawyers’ Committee. “We hope this action will send a message that targeting minority communities for scams will not be tolerated.”

US counties sue HSBC claiming loss of tax base

December 25, 2012
Three Georgia counties have filed a lawsuit claiming that British bank HSBC cost them hundreds of millions of dollars in extra expenses and damage to their tax bases by aggressively signing minorities to housing loans that were likely to fail.
     The Atlanta-area counties’ failure or success with the relatively novel strategy could help determine whether other local governments in the US try to hold big banks accountable for losses in tax revenue based on what they claim are discriminatory or predatory lending practices.
     The lawsuit says the banks violated the Fair Housing Act. Reuters Similar lawsuits resulted in settlements this year worth millions of dollars for communities in Maryland and Tennessee.
     

HUD Reaches agreement with Atlanta housing providers on claim that managers discriminate against disabled tenant

October 08, 2012
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development announced today that it has reached a Conciliation Agreement with Brookside Park Limited Partnership and Peabody Properties South, LLC, the owner and management company for Brookside Park Apartments in Atlanta, and a former property manager, settling allegations that they violated the Fair Housing Act by refusing to allow a tenant with disabilities to transfer to a first-floor unit.
     The Fair Housing Act makes it illegal to discriminate in the terms and conditions of rental housing based on disability. This includes refusing to make reasonable accommodations such as allowing transfers necessitated by a person’s disability.
     “Property owners and managers have an obligation to comply with the Fair Housing Act, which includes ensuring that their policies do not discriminate against persons with disabilities,” said Carlos Osegueda, HUD’s Region IV Director for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity.

Banks accused of neglecting homes in minority neighborhoods

May 09, 2012
Empty and abandoned houses are a dangerous blight on their communities. Because of the mortgage meltdown, many are now owned by the banks.
     The question is why are such a large number of abandoned homes in communities where the predominant population is people of color?
     "What we found was neighborhoods of color were substantially less well maintained than white neighborhoods," said Gail Williams, Executive Director of Metro Fair Housing Services. "And here in the Atlanta area we've got a clear disparity." The National Fair Housing Alliance has filed discrimination complaints with HUD against several banks for allegedly leaving hundreds of homes in disparate states of disrepair.

People with disabilities call on state to do more

February 16, 2012
Hundreds of people with disabilities rallied outside the state Capitol on Thursday morning.
     The Georgia Council on Developmental Disabilities flooded the Capitol steps and called on the lawmakers to pass policies to make transportation more accessible for people with disabilities, to pump more money into programs for their care as well as crack down on job and housing discrimination during the 14th annual Disability Day.
     Valerie Suber is the public information director for the council. For Suber the issue is more than just professional. It's personal. Suber is visually impaired.
     "We are sharing the message that people with disabilities can work. They have dreams and aspirations and gifts and talents," Suber said.

Religious workers may have discrimination case

December 15, 2010
A property owner may have discriminated against two employees who were fired after they displayed prohibited religious artwork in their office, the 11th Circuit ruled.
     Daniel and Mary Dixon, who are married, sued their former supervisors and employer, The Hallmark Cos. and Hallmark Management, for religious discrimination, retaliation, failure to accommodate religious beliefs and violations of the Fair Housing Act.
     The couple worked as the on-site property manager and maintenance technician at a Hallmark rental complex, and they knew that Hallmark had a policy banning religious items in the management office.

Georgia realtors to pay $60,000 to settle housing discrimination lawsuit

November 11, 2010
A group of Georgia real estate agents has agreed to pay $60,000 as part of a settlement from a lawsuit alleging discrimination against families with children, the U.S. Department of Justice said Wednesday.
     Harry Norman Realtors and Jennifer Sherrouse, a real estate agent in Atlanta, were accused of violating the Fair Housing Act when they advertised a “no-child policy” at one of the units in the Georgian Manor Condominiums, the justice department said.
     They must pay $25,000 to the government and take fair-housing training, the justice department said.
     Sherrouse no longer works for Harry Norman Realtors, according to an email the Atlanta-based agency sent to the AJC.
     

DOJ to sue Post properties

September 15, 2010
In a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission on Wednesday, the Atlanta-based multifamily real estate investment trust said it got a letter on Aug. 17 from the DOJ stating it finished an investigation under the Fair Housing Act (FHA) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of Post’s apartment communities. DOJ claimed it found properties in six states and Washington were not designed and constructed in accordance with the requirements for accessible multifamily housing and public accommodations.
     Post Properties (NYSE: PPS) said the letter indicated DOJ was willing to enter into pre-suit negotiations to resolve the matter. But after the company and its lawyers finished preliminary discussions with DOJ, they concluded pre-suit resolution was not possible. The company now expects DOJ to file a complaint soon.
     The allegations are similar to a lawsuit originally filed in November 2006 by the Equal Rights Center (ERC) against Post Properties. That suit was dismissed in its entirety in September 2009, with the court saying ERC lacked standing to bring the claims. But that case is scheduled for hearing in Appeals Court in October over damages and costs to be awarded to Post Properties
     
     

Controversial shelter makes a final stand

May 13, 2010
Anita Beaty, the embattled director of the Metro Atlanta Task Force for the Homeless, says she "won't agree" to an eviction for the shelter.
     A showdown brewing since the 1990s appears finally to be nearing resolution now that the task force has lost its longtime home at Peachtree and Pine streets downtown to foreclosure.
     At a rally held on Thursday outside the shelter, Beaty announced the task force has filed a complaint accusing the city of discriminatory practices that violate federal fair housing rules. It asks the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to withhold about $20 million in federal housing and community development funds.

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