Chicago, IL

Fair housing still an elusive goal

August 27, 2006
There are real estate agents in Coldwell Banker's Gold Coast branch who would appear to care less that black money is green. These agents, all white, apparently believe it is more important to maintain Chicago's long-held reputation as one of the nation's most segregated cities rather than earn a commission for themselves and make money for their real estate agency by showing African-American prospective home buyers property on the North Side. This disappointing, but not quite surprising, fact of life was exposed during a three-year undercover investigation. During the course of the sting operation, conducted by the not-for-profit National Fair Housing Alliance, the agency was called by whites and blacks who expressed an interest in buying condominiums in Lincoln Park, the Loop, the Gold Coast and the Lake View areas.

Coldwell realty office accused of discrimination

August 24, 2006
The nonprofit National Fair Housing Alliance opted to go public Tuesday with a five-month-old complaint filed against Coldwell Banker Residential's Chicago Gold Coast office, alleging the company discriminates against African Americans in violation of the Fair Housing Act.
     The complaint, which also names parent company NRT Inc., was filed with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development in March, following an undercover investigation that revealed a host of "blatant" discriminatory practices, the nonprofit group said.
     The group has quietly held discussions with the company to resolve the problems, but said there was little progress, which prompted it to increase the pressure with a news conference.

No money: Fair housing organization to close

May 24, 2006
The Leadership Council for Metropolitan Open Communities, founded by Martin Luther King Jr. in 1966, will close June 2 after 40 years of promoting fair housing. "All options were thoroughly explored," said Leadership Council Board Chairman Connie Lindsey of the board's recent vote to cease operations. "It was a very difficult decision for the whole board."
     The Leadership Council is one of the oldest and largest fair housing organizations in the country. Oak Park resident John Lukehart has been working for the Leadership Council since 1981, starting as a community relations specialist involved in the organization's education and outreach efforts. In the '90s he was named vice president for community relations and public policy and assumed the acting executive director post last August.
     Oak Park's fair housing work was compatible with the Leadership Council's goals, Lukehart said. "The Leadership Council has been a good partner and certainly has helped support our Housing Center," said Cynthia Breunlin, Oak Park's housing program manager. Breunlin had worked at the Leadership Council for seven years. "I still use their training tapes when I speak to groups."

Fair housing group shutting its doors

May 19, 2006
The Leadership Council for Metropolitan Open Communities, a fair housing organization that began 40 years ago, announced Thursday that it will cease operations in June.
     Connie Lindsay, chair of the council's board, said in an e-mailed statement that the group has been experiencing financial difficulties that prevent it from continuing its programs.
     "All options were thoroughly explored," Lindsay said in her statement. "It was a very difficult decision for the whole board."

Two House Democrats call for HUD contracts probe

May 09, 2006
Two House Democrats on Tuesday called for a probe of contract decisions by the U.S. Housing and Urban Development Department under its current secretary to determine whether politics played a part in those awards.
     The call from the top Democrats on the House Government Reform Committee and House Financial Services Committee follows statements reportedly made by HUD Secretary Alphonso Jackson in Dallas that a contractor was first selected, but ultimately not awarded a contract because he said he did not "like" U.S. President George W. Bush.

Craigslist suit faces speech hurdle

March 26, 2006
A Chicago fair housing group recently made headlines nationwide when it sued Craigslist, saying the popular Web site ran about 100 discriminatory housing ads over a six-month period.
     Meanwhile, federal housing regulators are fielding more complaints about discriminatory ads these days--including one against Craigslist--and they say they have made the issue a priority.
     Both the Department of Housing and Urban Development and The Chicago Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law argue that the Fair Housing Act (FHA) applies to the Internet just as it does to print media. And that would mean all Web sites--just like newspapers--are liable for discriminatory housing ads.

Craigslist is accused of bias in housing ads

February 23, 2006
FOR several years, Craigslist.org has been aggressively taking classified advertising from newspapers.
     Now Craigslist is the one under attack.
     A fair housing group in Chicago has sued Craigslist, accusing it of violating the Fair Housing Act of 1968 by publishing discriminatory advertisements.
     If the lawsuit, filed by the Chicago Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, succeeds, Craigslist will be forced to follow the same rules newspapers do in their classified advertising listings, screening each ad to make sure no antidiscrimination laws are violated. That means ads like the ones the lawyers' group said it spotted on Craigslist in a six-month investigation would be banned.

Bias suit against Craigslist could alter Net advertising

February 13, 2006
CHICAGO -- A federal lawsuit accuses the online site Craigslist of violating fair housing laws by publishing discriminatory classified ads, reviving the question of what legal boundaries, if any, should exist for postings on the Internet.
     Legal experts said the lawsuit against Craigslist, an online network of classified ads and forums, faces an uphill battle because of laws that protect online service providers.

Craigslist sued for publishing discriminatory housing ads

February 07, 2006
A Chicago fair housing group has sued groundbreaking Web site Craigslist for allegedly publishing discriminatory advertisements, a case that could test the legal liabilities of online ad venues.
     The suit is part of an emerging attempt by housing watchdogs nationally to hold online classified sites to the same strict standards as the publishers of print classifieds, such as newspapers.
     The suit is potentially significant because it suggests that the rules for an Internet site should be the same as for a traditional publisher, in which every ad should be vetted to conform with the law. But that notion contradicts the way the Internet has blossomed, where informal communities tend to police themselves and free expression is valued.

Senior citizen voice triggers housing discrimination

October 25, 2005
If you are a senior citizen looking for a home to rent, you may be out of luck the moment you leave a message on the landlord’s voice mail. At least that is what a research team from the New York-based Perisphere Institute discovered when they recently conducted a telephone audit of Chicago rental listings.
     The Perisphere researchers say they discovered age and gender discrimination based solely on the sound of the prospective renter’s voice.
     This project was modeled after a 2001 racial discrimination phone-based study conducted by Professor Douglas Massey when he was at the University of Pennsylvania.

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