Chicago, IL

Cook County sues Wells Fargo over lending practices

December 01, 2014
Cook County has filed a federal lawsuit against a third mortgage lender, alleging that unfair, predatory lending and loan serving practices, particularly in minority communities, violated the Fair Housing Act.
     The suit, filed against Wells Fargo on Friday in U.S. District Court in Chicago, is similar to others brought in late March against HSBC, Bank of America and its subsidiaries Countrywide and Merrill Lynch. In November, a federal judge in Los Angeles denied a motion by JPMorgan Chase to dismiss a similar lawsuit. Attorneys for Cook County recently made the court here aware of that ruling.
     In its lawsuit, the county alleges that Wells Fargo engaged in the practice of "equity stripping" by targeting minority mortgage borrowers in Cook County, particularly Latinos and African-Americans, in order to maximize the income and assets the bank could generate by originating or acquiring high-cost and other nonprime mortgage loans.

Gov wants anti-trans bias outlawed; Ark. city's ordinance

September 02, 2014
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is calling on the state to outlaw discrimination against transgender people, saying gender identity and expression should be included in the state's civil-rights law alongside race, religion and disability, the Associated Press reported. In a letter to the Empire State Pride Agenda, Cuomo said transgender people face significant discrimination, citing surveys that show three-fourths of transgender New Yorkers experience workplace harassment or mistreatment. Cuomo said that if he is elected to a second term this fall, he will push to outlaw discrimination based on a person's gender identity or expression in the areas of housing, employment and public accommodations.
     The Fayetteville, Arkansas, City Council has approved an anti-discrimination ordinance that includes sexual orientation and gender identity and expression by a vote of six to two, according to The Washington Blade. "The idea that I could lose my home because someone finds out that I'm gay is why … we need to push this through as quickly as possible," said resident Nathan Southerland-Kordsmeier. Michelle Duggar of the TLC series 19 Kids and Counting, which profiles her family who lives in nearby Tontitown, recorded a robocall that urged Fayetteville residents to publicly oppose the proposed ordinance. The ordinance will take effect Sept. 20.
     Point Foundation co-founder Carl Strickland has died in a boating accident at Lake Tahoe, Nevada, Frontiers LA reported. Strickland and his partner of 17 years, Bruce Lindstrom, created the Point Foundation in 2001 as a means to provide scholarship funds to LGBT students. Since its inception, Point has provided more than $15 million in the education and support of its scholars. The organization will hold its Voices on Point concert and dinner at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza on Sept. 13; honoree Diane Warren is slated to attend.

Cook County blames HSBC for blight

March 24, 2014
HSBC's predatory residential mortgage lending targeted minority homeowners, and triggered urban blight in black and Hispanic neighborhoods when the housing bubble burst, Cook County claims in court.
     Cook County sued HSBC North America Holdings, HSBC Finance Corporation, HSBC Mortgage Corporation, and seven other HSBC affiliates, including HSBC Bank and Decision One Company, in Federal Court.
     "Plaintiff seeks injunctive relief to remedy, and monetary damages for, defendants' predatory and discriminatory residential mortgage lending and servicing activities that have resulted in - and will continue to cause - unprecedented numbers of mortgage loan delinquencies, defaults, foreclosures and/or home vacancies in plaintiff's communities and neighborhoods, particularly those communities with high percentages of FHA [Fair Housing Act] protected minority residents," the complaint begins.
     From 2006 until the housing bubble burst in 2008 HSBC was the largest subprime mortgage lender in the U.S., the county claims.

State-supported housing provider accused of bias against mentally ill

November 11, 2013
The private operators of a chain of state-supported housing facilities serving people with physical disabilities are improperly screening out applicants with mental health issues, a federal lawsuit alleges.
     The lawsuit accuses Eden Supportive Living of maintaining a discriminatory “no mental illness” policy at its residences in Chicago, North Aurora and Champaign.
     HOPE Fair Housing Center brought the case last month on behalf of a 44-year-old Kane County woman who the group says became homeless for a period following her rejection.
     HOPE used undercover “testers,” posing as housing applicants or family members of applicants, to confirm the woman’s allegations that Eden representatives told her they could not accept her if she had any kind of mental health diagnosis.

Activists accuse CHA of violating Fair Housing Act

July 29, 2013
The Chicago Housing Authority will hold its annual meeting Tuesday morning.
     On the agenda, two proposals to sell or swap land that was once the site of public housing. Some Bronzeville community activist say those proposals are in a effect using taxpayer dollars to replace people.
     At 51st and State Street, the land was once part of the sprawling Robert Taylor Housing Project is now slated for sale to a private developer who wants to build a recreational facility and other commercial development.
     “This is a planned way to displace blacks using taxpayer dollars. That’s not acceptable,” said Roderick Wilson, Executive Director of the Lugenia Burns Hope Center.
     The group held a quiet protest Monday morning outside the CHA headquarters on East Van Buren Street.
     
     

HUD charges Minnesota Condo Ass'n and property managers with discrimination against families with children

November 30, 2012
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced today that it is charging the homeowner association and property managers for an Edina, MN, condominium building with housing discrimination. HUD claims that they refused to allow children under the age of 18 to live at the property.
     According to HUD’s charge, 7000 Sandell Condominium Association, Inc., its property management company, New Concepts Management Group, Inc., and the property’s off-site manager, Paul L. Bonzonie, violated the Fair Housing Act when they maintained a policy prohibiting children who are minors from living in the building, even though the property did not meet the federal qualifications to be housing for older persons.
     The Fair Housing Act prohibits housing providers, including condominium associations, from denying housing to families with children under the age of 18, unless the housing meets the federal standards to be housing for older persons.

HUD charges Minnesota property owner with discrimination against people with disabilities

September 26, 2012
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced today that it has chargedthe owner of a Grand Rapids, MN, apartment complex with violating the Fair Housing Act by denying arequest from a disabled woman to reside in her apartment witha medically-prescribed support animal. The owner operates the property as Jay’s Hilltop Rentals.
     The Fair Housing Act makes it unlawful for a housing provider to refuse to make a reasonable accommodation in its rules, policies, practices, or services when needed to provide persons with disabilities an equal opportunity to use or enjoy a dwelling.
     “HUD is committed to making sure housing providers meet their obligation to grant people with disabilities the reasonable accommodations they need,” said HUD’s Midwest Regional Administrator Antonio R. Riley.

Group home regulations under scrutiny in McHenry Co.

July 22, 2012
At least seven municipalities in McHenry County are either in violation of or not consistent with federal Fair Housing Act provisions regarding group homes for people with disabilities, which in turn puts at risk their eligibility to receive federal funding, according to a consultant’s study draft report.
     The municipalities — Crystal Lake, Harvard, Huntley, Lake in the Hills, Marengo, McHenry and Spring Grove — have zoning ordinances that regulate group homes differently than single-family homes, which runs contrary to the FHA, said consultant Marjorie Williams of Mullin, Lonergan and Associates. The Pittsburgh-based firm was paid about $40,000 by the county to conduct the “Analysis of Impediments to Fair Housing Choice” study.
     Lake in the Hills restricts group homes to certain residential districts, Huntley imposes additional permit requirements, and Marengo imposes a distance of 1,000 feet between group homes, the draft report states.

Federal three-year grant assists the fair housing legal clinic

July 09, 2012
With a 20-year history of working on behalf of those discriminated in their housing choices, The John Marshall Law School Fair Housing Legal Clinic announces $840,000 in new HUD funding to help continue its initiatives.
     Work on behalf of those discriminated in their housing choices will continue through the Fair Housing Legal Clinic at The John Marshall Law School in Chicago thanks to a three-year grant of nearly $840,000 from the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
     The grant will help the Clinic continue its broad-based, full-service work assisting those who have been discriminated against in their housing choices. This signifies an ongoing partnership between HUD and The John Marshall Law School. HUD has been helping fund operations at the Clinic since 1994.

Bridgeport housing discrimination suit settled

June 01, 2012
A lawsuit that alleged housing discrimination in Chicago's Bridgeport neighborhood has been settled almost two years after it was filed.
     The suit, filed by the Justice Department in September 2010, alleged that fair housing laws were broken when radio personality George and Peytyn Willborn and their children tried in early 2010 to purchase an 8,000-square-foot home owned by Daniel and Adrienne Sabbia for $1.7 million. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development charged that the Sabbias, who are white, backed out of a verbal agreement to sell their home to the Willborns, who are black.
     The Willborns filed a separate but related civil suit.

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