Louisville, KY

Kentucky Human Rights Commission director resigns amid reorganization

July 22, 2004
The executive director of the state's Human Rights Commission resigned Thursday, criticizing Gov. Ernie Fletcher's plan to reorganize the group on her way out.
     Beverly Watts said she's accepted a job as director of the National Fair Housing Training Academy, based at Howard University in Washington, D.C. Watts said she will leave by the end of the month.
     Watts said Fletcher's proposal to reduce the commission from 11 part-time members to three full-time members wasn't the motivating factor in her departure. But Watts criticized the proposed reorganization, saying it would weaken the commission's ability to do its job in the future.

Troubled mobile home park under new management

May 17, 2004
After receiving more than 100 health and safety violations and being accused of trading free rent for sexual favors, Paul Metzger is no longer working at the Colonial Estates Mobile Home Park off Dixie Highway. WAVE 3's Dina Kaplan reports.
     One day after WAVE 3 aired a story about Paul Metzger, including interviews with women claiming he offered them free rent in exchange for sexual favors, a letter was distributed to residents at Colonial Estates, saying "Paul Metzger no longer works" at the mobile home park, and that "Colonial Estates is very sorry for all the problems here."

Blind Woman Says She Was Tricked Into Buying Run-Down Home

May 13, 2004
A woman blind since birth had her dream of owning her own home turned into a nightmare. Lois June Jackson always wanted to own her own home. She finally bought one, but says the man she bought it from took advantage of her disability, selling her an overpriced home that was falling apart.
     Lois Jackson says she's always wanted one thing in life more than any other: "I wanted a house with an upstairs, a front and back porch, and all that stuff."
     In September 2002, Lois thought her dream came true. But it didn't. Her dream home turned into a nightmare. After she moved bought the house, she found out its vinyl siding is different colors. There are holes in the walls, no insulation, and exposed pipes. Some floor boards look ready to collapse.

Park DuValle development's success leaves some poor residents behind

May 02, 2004
Some homes in the new Park Duvalle neighborhood are valued at more than $200,000. But the project ultimately resulted in a loss of more than 600 public-housing units, which helped worsen a shortage of subsidized housing for the poor.
     IT WAS a $257 million social experiment that transformed Louisville's most blighted area into a vibrant neighborhood where rich and poor live side by side.
     Celebrated nationally and internationally, Park DuValle was named two years ago as one of the world's 26 "Great Planned Communities" by the Urban Land Institute in Washington, D.C.
     "You have a tear in your eye every time you look at all the work, all the pain and all the energy that we put into creating that neighborhood that is working," said Metro Mayor Jerry Abramson, who calls Park DuValle one of his greatest accomplishments.
     But metro officials say Park DuValle also has taught them lessons about the difficulties in balancing urban renewal with the needs of the community's poorest residents — lessons they are mindful of as Louisville begins a similar effort at Clarksdale Homes.

Man with paralyzing tumor denied wheelchair by airline

April 09, 2004
The Department of Transportation is imposing what it's calling a record-setting punishment after Delta Airlines committed numerous civil rights violations. The airline is now revamping its procedures for dealing with disabled passengers, and a Louisville man is one of the reasons why. WAVE 3 Investigator Connie Leonard explains.
     August 23rd, 2003, a day 21-year-old Ben Turpen won't soon forget. "It was a weird situation. It was kind of surreal."
     Turpen was trying to catch a connecting flight at Atlanta's Hartsfield Airport to get back to school at Auburn. "When I got to Atlanta, I could tell I was getting weaker." What Ben didn't know was that he was in big trouble. While he was waiting at the airport, a tumor that had been growing on his spinal cord was about to sever it.

Study faults costly mortgages: Minorities more likely to fall prey

March 09, 2004
African Americans and Hispanics in the Louisville area are far more likely than whites to get high-cost mortgages typically sold only to risky borrowers, according to a study to be released today by an group concerned about low-income families.
     "A lot of minorities qualify for prime loans and should get prime loans, but are slipping through the cracks and getting subprime loans and paying more for their mortgages," said Amy Staebler, a Louisville organizer for ACORN, a Washington, D.C., organization. "People don't understand the loans they are getting."
     Subprime loans carry higher rates, fees and other costs than prime loans and can become predatory when those costs bear little relation to risk, ACORN said, adding that, according to mortgage giant Fannie Mae, 30 percent to 50 percent of subprime loans are made to borrowers who could have qualified for prime loans.

Rights panel to meet with Hispanics

December 08, 2003
The Kentucky Commission on Human Rights will meet today with local Hispanic leaders in hopes of educating them about their civil rights and how to bring complaints if those rights are violated.
     Although the commission receives relatively few formal complaints from Hispanics, staff members have heard allegations of discrimination in housing and other matters through conversations with Hispanics across the state, spokeswoman Victoria Dempsey said.
     The Kentucky Civil Rights Act prohibits, among other things, discrimination in housing on the basis of race.

Kentucky agency, newspaper settle advertising complaint

November 13, 2003
The Kentucky Fair Housing Council and the former owners of the Lousville Eccentric Observer, a weekly newspaper in Louisville, have settled complaints that the newspaper published several illegally discriminatory advertisements in its real estate classifieds section.
     The ads in question contained language that illegally stated preferences for renters based on sex and familial status. The $5,000 settlement resolves three complaints filed by the Fair Housing Council in 2002 and 2003.
     The advertisements in question contained the discriminatory wording "ideal for single older person," "ideal for 1," "perfect for single looking for extra space, 2 roommates, or a couple" and "seeks single ... older woman."
     Advertising guidance issued by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) in 1995 indicates that the words "singles," "couples," and "older" are facially discriminatory and indicate a preference for tenants without children, in violation of the federal Fair Housing Act.

Galen Martin's KSU Homecoming

October 18, 2003
WHAT DO the Kentucky Commission on Human Rights (KCHR), the KCHR Civil Rights Wall of Fame, Kentucky State University, Harlan County black coalminers and Bill and Vivian Turner have in common?
     It's Galen Martin. He links the venerable state agency, a unique and elegant artwork now on permanent display at KSU, my late father and his underground co-workers and me and my wife.
     And when it comes to Martin, what he represents in the chronicles of Kentucky's record on human rights is not as important as who he is as a human being.

Two men plead guilty to predatory lending

September 19, 2003
Two men who pleaded guilty in a predatory lending case were sentenced to five years' probation yesterday.
     Anthony Couch and Jon D. Hobson pleaded guilty last month to multiple theft charges related to stealing from western Louisville residents by helping them obtain home loans, then pocketing the proceeds. They must pay $141,265 in restitution to their victims.
     Hobson, 32, paid $5,000, and Couch, 39, paid $8,000 yesterday.
     The victims "needed restitution more than jail time," prosecutor Kristen Poindexter said in an interview.
     Both defendants agreed to serve five years in prison if they violate probation, according to court records.

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