Houston, TX

Family of cancer patient says they were victims of discrimination by a charity group

October 01, 2015
he family of a four-year-old cancer patient says they were victims of discrimination when refused housing by the Ronald McDonald House Houston.
     In January, Jolynn Garcia was diagnosed with Medulloblastoma, an aggressive brain cancer. She underwent emergency surgery to remove the tumor. By July she would begin chemotherapy at MD Anderson.
     She and her family are from the Rio Grande Valley so they asked if they could stay at the Ronald McDonald House Houston during treatments. Their request was denied.
     "You all say, advertise, that you don't turn away any child at all. How come you're denying my daughter," asked Jolynn's mother Evelyn Garcia.

Deaf people face discrimination in housing search

January 27, 2014
It got to the point where Terrell Brittain would begin every call about an apartment listing with the threat: “Don’t hang up or I will file a federal complaint.”
     Discrimination is an all-too-common part of housing searches for Brittain and other deaf people, according to a recent report from the National Fair Housing Alliance that details systemic illegal treatment of deaf people seeking rentals at dozens of apartment complexes nationwide.
     “I felt dehumanized. It wasn’t fair,” said Brittain, a professor of American Sign Language Interpretation at the University of Houston, who was hung up on when he searched for an apartment.
     About 1 in 4 of the 117 large rental firms investigated in 2013 displayed differential treatment toward deaf and hearing apartment seekers with matching qualifications. Those 30 companies that appeared to discriminate own more than 2,000 apartment complexes in 57 cities.

War veteran with service dog rejected

December 16, 2013
A veteran disabled in the Iraq war was refused housing because he uses a service dog, the veteran claims in court.
     Derek E. Kolb sued Willshow Inc. dba Texas Realty and Management under the Fair Housing Act, in Federal Court. They are the only defendants.
     Kolb, 29, served as an Army infantryman in Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2005 and 2006, conducting raids and clearing roadside bombs from supply routes. He suffered traumatic brain and leg injuries when a roadside bomb exploded north of Diwaniya in September 2005.
     Kolb was medically retired from the Army and received 10 awards for his service, including the Bronze Star. He also walked away suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder that made his life hell, he says in the complaint.
     He "experienced isolation, hyper-vigilance, loss of pleasure, suicidal ideations, loss of interest, avoidance of crowds, loss of friends and family, and increased anxiety, all because of his PTSD," he says.
     

U.S. government sues Texas RV park for alleged discrimination against transgender woman

October 08, 2013
On behalf of the federal government, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder has filed a lawsuit against a Texas recreational vehicle park for alleged discrimination against a transgender woman.
     The suit was filed Oct. 3 in the Eastern District of Texas, Tyler Division, against George Toone and In Toone Services.
     The woman, Roxanne Joganik, filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development in June 2012, alleging that Toone discriminated against her on the basis of sex, violating the federal Fair Housing Act. She later added Toone's company, In Toone Services, to the complaint.
     According to the government's lawsuit, In Toone Services, based in Abilene, owns Texas RV Park, a 43-site facility in Athens, Texas.
     In Toone Services took control in May 2012, five days after Joganik had paid rent through June 2012, the complaint stated.

Lender settles discrimination claim

June 11, 2011
Cornerstone Mortgage has agreed to settle a federal complaint that it discriminated against home loan applicants on maternity leave, the Department of Housing and Urban Development said.
     The Houston-based lender agreed to pay one applicant $15,000 and set aside a $750,000 fund for others who may have similar claims against the company. The lender also agreed to adopt a clearer policy against discrimination and to notify potential claimants about the fund.
     HUD brought the complaint under the Fair Housing Act and alleged that Cornerstone discriminated against women on maternity leave. The Fair Housing Act prohibits housing discrimination in sales, rental and lending based on a person's race, sex or family. Cornerstone, which does business in 32 states, denies it has discriminated in violation of the act, according to the settlement.
     

Building battle brewing in Sugar Land

September 20, 2010
Are city inspectors turning a blind eye to the needs of a man who is elderly and infirm? Or is the man’s son attempting an end run around the rules?
     Neal Perez says he just wants to accommodate his disabled dad. But the city won’t grant the permit.
     “This is where father takes a shower. This is father’s shower room, right here,” says Perez, pointing to a chair in the middle of the breakfast nook.
     Here, 84-year old Nildo Perez has been getting sponge baths, surrounded by towels.
     The elder Perez has been disabled since suffering a massive aneurysm in 2004.

Camden Property Trust announces settlement of lawsuit with Equal Rights Center

September 16, 2009
As previously announced, Camden Property Trust and the Equal Rights Center ("ERC") have entered into a settlement agreement in connection with a lawsuit filed by the ERC in 2007. Costs related to the settlement were previously accrued and reserved by Camden. Pursuant to the settlement agreement Camden has also entered into a multi-year educational and training program with the ERC. Future costs related to the educational, training and consulting program administered by the ERC are not expected to have a material impact on Camden's future earnings. As part of the settlement, Camden has agreed to survey approximately 6,500 Camden apartment homes to determine compliance with applicable accessibility requirements and to make improvements to the surveyed apartment homes as necessary. Based on Camden's preliminary investigations, the estimated cost of capital improvements to the surveyed apartment homes to meet accessibility requirements is not expected to be material.
     In September 2007, the ERC filed a lawsuit against Camden and one of its wholly-owned subsidiaries in the United States District Court for the District of Maryland. This suit alleged various violations of the Fair Housing Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act by Camden in the design, construction, control, management, and/or ownership of various multifamily properties. The ERC sought compensatory and punitive damages in unspecified amounts, an award of attorneys' fees and costs of suit, as well as preliminary and permanent injunctive relief that included modification of existing assets and prohibiting construction or sale of noncompliant units or complexes. Both parties entered into a consent decree agreement on September 14, 2009, pursuant to which the lawsuit was resolved.

Discrimination complaint says Houston denied $4 million funding

November 06, 2008
Developers of a proposed complex that would provide housing for the homeless and mentally ill filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development alleging that the city is discriminating against the disabled and blacks by not funding the project.
     In the complaint filed last week, the Housing Corporation of Greater Houston alleges the city violated the federal Fair Housing Act by not providing $4 million for the corporation's Magnolia Glen project.
     The Housing Corporation, a nonprofit that primarily builds and operates housing for the homeless, does not accuse the city of intentional discrimination.
     Instead, it alleges that the City Council's failure to vote on the Housing Corporation's request for funding has had the effect of discriminating against blacks, who the complaint says comprise more than half of the city's homeless, and disabled homeless people who are mentally ill or have HIV.

In wake of Obama's victory, civil rights leaders make adjustments

November 06, 2008
On the very day that the rest of America elected the first black president in the nation's history, voters in Nebraska approved a referendum banning all government affirmative action programs in the state.
     For many Americans, those two developments add up to one conclusion when it comes to the long and bitter struggle over civil rights: Problem solved. Everyone's equal now. Let's move on.
     Or, as Ward Connerly, the black conservative activist from California who has led a national crusade against race-based affirmative action programs, put it: "We have overcome the scourge of race."
     Civil rights leaders across the country scarcely had time to savor Sen. Barack Obama's unprecedented election victory before grappling with an ironic new dilemma Wednesday: How to keep the nation's focus on the continuing racial injustices they see when an African-American will be occupying the White House.

Unfair housing practices examined

July 31, 2008
The apartment listings began, "I'm not a racist, but ... "
     "That's always a bad start," said James Perry, executive director of the Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center.
     The listings, which cropped up on Web sites meant to help New Orleans evacuees find housing after Hurricane Katrina — one of them a site created by FEMA — went on to justify a desire for exclusively white tenants.
     In the early months after the storm, Perry compiled 28 pages of discriminatory listings from five housing Web sites. By December 2005, he had filed complaints against all five sites with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, which enforces fair housing laws. Those cases are still pending.

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