Cleveland, OH

Ohio's Kent State to pay 145k in student housing discrimination suit

January 11, 2016
The Justice Department announced that Ohio’s Kent State University (KSU) has agreed to pay $145,000 to settle a civil rights lawsuit alleging that the university had maintained a policy of not allowing students with psychological disabilities to keep emotional support animals in university-operated student housing.
     Under the settlement agreement, which must still be approved by the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio, KSU will:
     

Kent State University settles suit over support animals in student housing

January 05, 2016
Kent State University has agreed to pay two former students $100,000 to settle a fair housing lawsuit that was filed by the U.S. Justice Department after the school refused to allow the students to keep an emotional support dog in a university apartment.
     The settlement announced on Monday also calls for the school to pay $30,000 to a fair housing organization that advocated for the students and $15,000 to the federal government. The DOJ says in a statement that Kent State will allow students with psychological disabilities to keep animals that provide "therapeutic benefits."
      The DOJ filed the lawsuit on the students' behalf in August 2014. A Kent State spokesman declined to comment on Monday.

Bank of America is accused of racial discrimination in Cleveland in black, Latino neighborhoods

October 01, 2014
Bank of America discriminates against minorities in Cleveland by neglecting foreclosed homes it owns in black and Latino neighborhoods while taking good care of foreclosed homes in white neighborhoods, the National Fair Housing Alliance said Tuesday.
     The NFHA said it's expanding its 2-year-old complaint filed with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to include Cleveland, Kansas City, New Orleans and Vallejo, Calif.
     In a news conference Tuesday, NFHA said the nation's second-largest bank practices housing discrimination by allowing foreclosed homes in black and Latino neighborhoods to decline while attending to homes in white neighborhoods, in violation of the federal Fair Housing Act.

Unfair rental policy costs company $60,000

June 08, 2011
A company that rents apartments is paying more than $60,000 in penalties for not renting to a woman with young children.
     The Department of Justice has entered into a consent decree with Testa Family Enterprises Ltd. LLC, resolving a complaint filed against the company alleging that it refused to rent apartments to families with small children.
     “This is an important case that sends the message that people with young children cannot be discriminated against when looking for housing,” United States Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio Steven Dettelbach said. “This case should be noted by landlords across Northern Ohio.”
     Under the terms of the agreement, Testa Family Enterprises will stop its discriminatory rental practices, pay $60,000 in penalties and company employees will undergo training on the provisions of the Fair Housing Act.
     

State agency awards tax credits for housing for seniors, the homeless in Midtown Cleveland

July 02, 2009
A state agency awarded more than $26 million in tax credits for affordable housing Thursday -- including awards that will support two controversial projects in Midtown Cleveland.
     The Ohio Housing Finance Agency awarded $1 million in credits to Emerald Alliance V, a development that will provide apartments for the homeless on 1.3 acres at 7515 Euclid Ave. The agency awarded $915,122 for a senior housing development at 7338 and 7350 Euclid Ave. Nonprofit community group MidTown Cleveland Inc. had been opposing both proposals.
     

Mortgage study in Ohio details racial disparities

February 03, 2009
A new statewide study says higher-income blacks in Ohio were more likely to be denied home mortgages than lower-income whites.
     The study released Monday by the Housing Research and Advocacy Center in Cleveland was based on mortgage rejection rates in 2007, the most recent data available.

Mortgage crisis guts Cleveland neighborhoods as it bypasses Buffalo

March 07, 2008
Thirteen homes on East 52nd Street have windows made of wood now. Snow drifts high onto 13 doorsteps, many of which haven’t been crossed since thieves ripped out the plumbing to sell for scrap.
     East 52nd Street is just one of countless streets in this city’s Slavic Village and other neighborhoods across Cuyahoga County that look like they’ve been hit by a very selective natural disaster.
     Three houses in a row will be abandoned and ripped-up, and then four more will be neat and lived-in, and then the pattern will repeat itself again and again on street after street.
     All told, local officials estimate there are 10,000 abandoned homes in Cleveland all of a sudden. Chalk it up to a man-made disaster, born of greed, that turned America’s real estate market into a big, bulging bubble. Now the bubble has burst, and the nation is possibly on the edge of a recession as a result. More immediately, the real estate market has collapsed in places like Cleveland and Detroit. Meanwhile, Buffalo has experienced comparatively minimal damage from the subprime mortgage meltdown and the resulting tidal wave of foreclosures.

Payback Time: Cleveland sues banks over the foreclosure crisis, but takes a legal road less traveled

January 16, 2008
Vacant homes left to scavengers and arsonists. Police and firefighters increasingly called to the scene. Property after property in need of demolition. The whole region seemingly in decline. For months some have been wondering what legal remedies there might be for cities suffering the fallout from skyrocketing rates of home foreclosures. Last week, Cleveland and Baltimore became the first to take the question to court.
      Both cities want banks to pay for damages caused by widespread - and arguably preventable - foreclosures. But while Baltimore has sued one major mortgage lender under a well-established federal fair housing law for discrimination in lending, Cleveland has waded into uncharted waters. Citing state public nuisance statutes, Cleveland has targeted 21 Wall Street investment banks for fueling an explosion of subprime loan products that, given Cleveland's dim economic profile, city officials say, were bound to fail -and these banks knew it.
     It's a gutsy move, and unprecedented. Cities have used similar state public nuisance laws in the past, in cases involving lead paint exposure and the gun industry (where gun manufacturers were sued for making weapons available to criminals and minors). But Cleveland is the first to make public nuisance claims against certain subprime mortgage lending practices - something not as obviously harmful as lead or firearms. As a result, the odds of success are impossible to predict.

Crime scene: Foreclosure

November 19, 2007
When homeowners moved away after a wave of foreclosures in Cleveland's working-class neighborhood of Slavic Village, crime took off.
     Slavic Village is known as the worst neighborhood in the nation for foreclosures. In a study for CNNMoney, RealtyTrac calculated that properties in its ZIP code recorded more foreclosure filings in three months than anywhere else in the United States.
     According to Jim Rokakis, Cuyahoga County Treasurer, more than 800 houses now sit vacant and moldering in the area, which was founded in the 1840s by Polish and Bohemian immigrants who worked in area steel mills and factories.
     The first thing that happened after owners moved out of foreclosed homes in Slavic Village was that squatters and looters moved in, according to Mark Wiseman, director of the Cuyahoga County Foreclosure Prevention Program. "In the inner city, it takes about 72 hours for a house to be looted after it is vacant," he said.
     Walking around the neighborhood, Mark Seifert, director of the East Side Organizing Project pointed out a home he said was still occupied less than two weeks before. The gutters and downspouts were already gone, and trash covered the yard.

Foreclosures hit a snag for lenders

November 15, 2007
A federal judge in Ohio has ruled against a longstanding foreclosure practice, potentially creating an obstacle for lenders trying to reclaim properties from troubled borrowers and raising questions about the legal standing of investors in mortgage securities pools.
     Judge Christopher A. Boyko of Federal District Court in Cleveland dismissed 14 foreclosure cases brought on behalf of mortgage investors, ruling that they had failed to prove that they owned the properties they were trying to seize.
     The pooling of home loans into securities has been practiced for decades and helped propel real estate prices in recent years as investors sought the higher yields that such mortgage trusts could provide. Some $6.5 trillion of securitized mortgage debt was outstanding at the end of 2006.
     But as foreclosures have surged, the complex structure and disparate ownership of mortgage securities have made it harder for borrowers to work out troubled loans, in part because they cannot identify who holds the mortgage notes, consumer advocates say.

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