Miami, FL

Comfort animals a growing need on college campuses

October 25, 2015
Across the nation, colleges receive requests from students looking for a specific type of roommate—the four-legged kind.
     Navigating college can be a stressful time for a majority of students but for some, the option of having a ‘comfort animal’ in their dorm can be an extra push towards academic success.
     Comfort animals, or emotional support animals, can serve as a therapeutic aid to individuals with a diagnosed mental health disorder like depression, anxiety and panic attacks; however, they are more commonly used to help combat the effects of post-traumatic stress disorder, according to a study by Frontiers in Psychology.
     More than 14 percent of college students have been diagnosed or treated for anxiety and 12 percent reported being diagnosed or treated for depression, according to a 2014 report by the American College Health Association National College Health Assessment.

Weeks after Miami-Dade honor, Milton family is again sued for discrimination

September 14, 2015
Earlier this month, when Miami-Dade Commissioners named a street after real estate developer José Milton, they brushed aside the fact that Milton’s company had been previously accused in court of racial discrimination, saying the allegations had been settled decades ago.
     Milton had donated money to county parks and other charitable causes since the days of the allegations, commissioners said.
     “He was a great man, helped this community…Sometimes we’ve got to be very cautious as to what happened in the past,” said Commissioner Jose “Pepe” Diaz, who co-sponsored the name change.

Blacks turned away from housing—again

May 06, 2015
The Housing Opportunities Project for Excellence, otherwise known as HOPE Inc., has filed two federal lawsuits against Creek Club and Nile Gardens apartments alleging racial discrimination.
     HOPE is a Florida nonprofit corporation that engages in testing for fair housing law violations and fights against discriminatory housing practices. It is funded by the United States Dept. of Housing and Urban Development (U.S. HUD).
     HOPE’s investigation of Creek Club Apartments, located at 1434 NW 19th Terr. in Allapattah, and Nile Gardens Apartments, located at 12750 NW 27th Ave., in Opa-locka, included a series of tests, where representatives from HOPE visited each of the apartments to inquire about prices and availability. In each situation for both locations, black testers who posed as applicants were consistently told that units were not available. Later in the same day, Hispanic testers, who also posed as applicants, were told that units were available and they were taken to see the apartments.

Housing discrimination suit settled

December 17, 2014
Elite Riverview Apartments, the Miami rental complex that was sued for discrimination in May after it allegedly denied Blacks to view rental units, has settled the case out of court, according to legal documents obtained by The Miami Times.
     The complaint that was originally filed in the U.S. Southern District of Florida, was dismissed Nov. 17 after Elite went into mediation talks with the plaintiff, the Housing Opportunities for Project Excellence (HOPE).
     According to the legal documents signed by both parties Nov. 5, HOPE and Elite entered into a settlement agreement whose terms will be enforced by the court. The terms and monetary awards of the agreement were undisclosed.
     Because of a confidentiality clause in the settlement, neither party can comment on the agreement.

Man sues condo association for right to keep dog as service animal

July 31, 2014
A condominium association has been fighting it out in court for nearly one year with a homeowner who sued when the association moved to ban his dog. The dog's breed and function are at the center of a lawsuit that pits countywide breed restrictions against Fair Housing Act protections for disabled residents with service animals.
     The plaintiff, Alexander Warren, asked Miami's Del Vista Towers Condominium Association to overlook its "no-pet" policy to accommodate his dog, Amir—a service animal, according to Warren.
     When the association refused, Warren filed suit in Southern District court, claiming failure to reasonably accommodate.
     But the condo association asked Judge Jose Martinez for a summary judgment and hinged its argument on the dog's breed. It argued that Warren's case was baseless, because his dog is a pit bull—a restricted breed under Miami-Dade regulations. Del Vista Towers figured Warren did not have a case because of Miami-Dade's countywide ban on pit bulls.
     

U.S. Homeownership riskier for many African-Americans, says Rice study -

July 23, 2014
Based on a new study from sociologists at Rice University and Cornell University found that while historical barriers that excluded Black America from the homeowner market for decades have crumbled, there are new signs that emerging types of racial inequality are making homeownership an increasingly risky investment for African-American home seekers.
     The reason: African-Americans are now 45 percent more likely than whites to switch from owning their homes to renting them.
     The study, "Emerging Forms of Racial Inequality in Homeownership Exit, 1968-2009," examines racial inequality in transitions out of homeownership over the last four decades. The authors used longitudinal household data from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics for the period 1968 to 2009, with a study sample of 6,994 non-Hispanic whites and 3,158 black homeowners.

City of Miami files housing discrimination suit against JPMorgan Chase

June 17, 2014
The city of Miami is taking JPMorgan Chase & Co, the country’s biggest bank, to court based on major claims of housing discrimination against its residents of color. In a lawsuit filed Friday, the city accuses JPMorgan of predatory mortgage lending in neighborhoods occupied predominately by people of color, violating the U.S. Fair Housing Act. Reps for the city claim that the alleged discriminatory practices caused a wave of foreclosures that have negatively effected the city long term. Reuters reports:
     After issuing high-cost loans to minorities in the years before the housing crisis, JPMorgan later refused to refinance the loans on the same terms as it extended to whites, leading to defaults and foreclosures, the complaint said.
     The lawsuit came just weeks after the city of Los Angeles filed similar claims against JPMorgan, seeking to recoup damages for lost tax revenue and increased city services needed in blighted neighborhoods.
     “The Miami City Attorney’s claims are baseless and stand contrary to our long record of providing affordable housing to low- to moderate-income families across the region,” JPMorgan spokesman Jason Lobo said. The bank will defend itself against the claims, he said.

S. Fla. group alleges foreclosure upkeep by banks depends on zip code

December 18, 2012
Making her way down the side of a house on NW 65th Street in the Liberty City section of Miami, Keenya Robertson steps over broken glass and around an assortment of garbage. Some of the windows of the duplex are boarded up with plywood. Other windows are left wide open. There is no mail box or Realtor sign out front. And around back the grass is dead and a tree has partially fallen.
     “No clean up whatsoever done,” she said, shaking her head.
     When she makes her way to one of the doors, there is no knob or lock. A slight push easily opens the door revealing an interior that has been vandalized.

Agreement reached in housing discrimination case

July 16, 2010
Terry Mislap sensed that something was not right when a rental apartment employee told her that, even though she had a Section 8 voucher that allowed for a two-bedroom apartment, she was required to rent a larger, more expensive unit.
     Similarly, Donna Karyzik’s experience, when she attempted to rent a three-bedroom apartment for her family of four, did not meet the “smell test.”
     Both women were referred to HOPE, Inc., a Miami non-profit housing organization, which joined the women and two other plaintiffs in a 2005 housing discrimination lawsuit against Cornerstone Residential Management, Inc.
     The prominent affordable housing developer is also the property manager for over 7,500 affordable housing units in Miami-Dade and Broward counties.
     The complaint alleged that Cornerstone was violating federal housing discrimination laws that do not allow restrictions on the number of people per bedroom in an apartment.

HUD charges Miami housing corporation with discriminating

April 21, 2010
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development today announced that it is charging the Urban League Housing Corporation of Greater Miami, Inc., its president, and a management company with violating the Fair Housing Act by refusing to make one of its units accessible for a disabled veteran.
     HUD brings the charge on behalf of a 71 year-old double amputee veteran, who uses a wheelchair for mobility. In addition, the Corporation allegedly refused to transfer the veteran to an accessible unit and threatened to evict him after he sought assistance from the Miami-Dade County Commissioner’s office.
     The Fair Housing Act makes it unlawful to refuse to grant persons with disabilities reasonable accommodations, such as changes to rules, policies or practices that allow them to fully enjoy their home. The Fair Housing Act also prohibits coercing, intimidating, threatening, or interfering with a person for having exercised their fair housing rights.

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