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Justice sues Jackson, Miss. apartment owner

November 20, 1998
The owner and operators of rental properties in Jackson, Mississippi, were sued by the Justice Department today for allegedly discriminating against African American home seekers.
     The suit, filed in U.S. District Court in Jackson, alleges that A. Waddell Nejam, who owns and rents townhouses and apartments in the Belhaven neighborhood, leasing agent Ann B. Sumrall, and a former leasing agent, Alice Perry, falsely told African Americans that apartments were not available. 

Builder sues N.J. town over group home

November 18, 1998
Three weeks after it was denied a permit to build a residence for Alzheimer's sufferers, Potomac Group Home Corp. has sued the borough, alleging discrimination against the disabled.
     The suit, filed in U.S. District Court in Newark, says Potomac was forced to appear before the Planning Board despite federal laws that say homes for people with disabilities are like any single-family home.
     The suit also accuses the board of unlawfully delaying a decision on Potomac's plans, which call for a 15-bedroom home on a residential stretch of Madison Avenue. 

Lenders launch minority mortgage loan effort

November 18, 1998
The mortgage banking industry Tuesday launched an aggressive campaign to expand homeownership among the nation's underserved minorities, a group expected to make up half of the U.S. population by 2010.
     ``The facts are clear, reaching these underserved communities and populations is not only good public policy, it's good business,'' said Donald Lange, president of the Mortgage Bankers Association of America.
     His group Tuesday announced the launch of the Research Institute for Housing America, a nonprofit organization devoted to
expanding housing and mortgage markets to all Americans.

1960s civil rights activist Carmichael dead at 57

November 16, 1998
Kwame Ture, who as Stokely Carmichael was a leading civil rights activist in the 1960s and used the slogan "Black power!" to rally blacks to the movement, died of prostate cancer November 15 in Conakry, Guinea. He was 57.
     Mr. Ture was a former president of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, a mainly 1960s civil rights organization. He also was a former prime minister of the Black Panther Party, the militant organization founded in Oakland, Calif., by Eldridge Cleaver, Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seale.
     "He was one of our generation who was determined to give his life to transforming America and Africa," the Rev. Jesse Jackson said after hearing of his death. "He was committed to ending racial apartheid in our country. He helped bring those walls down."

HUD to conduct nationwide testing project

November 16, 1998
Federal housing officials say a yearlong $7.5 million study will help them crackdown on mortgage lenders, landlords and others who discriminate against minorities.
     The Department of Housing and Urban Development will commission the study, which will take a look at patterns of discrimination in the selling and renting houses and apartments.
     The study will involve people posing as would-be buyers or renters who will report on the reception they receive from real estate brokers, landlords and mortgage lenders. The people doing the testing -- both men and women -- will be from a wide number of racial and ethnic groups, including blacks, Hispanics, Asians, Pacific Islanders and American Indians as well as a control group of whites.
     The Mortgage Bankers Association of America said it "welcomed" the initiative, but the National Association of Realtors said it felt the money should be used for educational purposes, to make sure that all parties are fully acquainted with the law.
     "We are opposed to the use of federal funds . . . unless there is bona fide evidence of discrimination," said Lee Verstandig, senior vice president for governmental affairs of the Realtors group.

DOJ settles familial status complaint in Idaho

November 16, 1998
An Idaho landlord, who publicized ads with the words "no children," has agreed to no longer discriminate against families with children, the Justice Department announced.
     The agreement, filed together with a civil complaint in U.S. District Court in Boise, resolves allegations that Marvin A. Gardner, a landlord in Rexburg, Idaho, discriminated against families with children in violation of the Fair Housing Act. 

State Farm can go into S&L business

November 13, 1998
After mollifying concerns about lending discrimination, insurance giant State Farm has secured regulators' approval to operate a federal savings and loan.
     The federal Office of Thrift Supervision approved the new charter on Thursday. Approval had been held up for a year partly because of opposition from several community groups, which voiced concern that State Farm might discriminate against low-income borrowers. The company, based in Bloomington, Ill., in the past had been accused of discriminating against inner-city homeowners in underwriting insurance policies.
     Seeking to assuage those concerns, State Farm pledged to make $195 million in loans to low- and moderate-income borrowers in the S&L's first three years of operation.

Acorn study: Minority loan rejection high

November 13, 1998
Acorn, a national organization
of community groups, released a report this week showing minorities were rejected for home mortgages at a much higher rate than white applicants from 1995-1997.
     Rejection rates for minorities rose even as a strong economy, low interest rates, and easy terms allowed many families to buy homes for the first time.
     Acorn (the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now) studied data filed with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development by 9,041 lenders in 35 cities. During the three years studied, the lenders examined took 4.91 million applications for conventional and government-backed home-purchase mortgages and originated 3.48 million loans.
     Acorn's study found nearly 33 percent of applications from blacks were rejected in 1997, up from 15 percent in 1995. Rejections of applications by Hispanics rose to 28 percent from 22 percent in the same period. 

Washington deals with end of affirmative action

November 13, 1998
Now that Washington voters have approved the nation's second ban on affirmative action, after a ballot campaign as divisive as any the state has ever seen, the real ordeal is just beginning.
     With less than a month to dismantle policies they have followed for decades, many officials here sound uncertain, even defiant, about how they plan to interpret the new law. If carried out to the letter, it will affect hiring and contracting in every state, county and local government agency and admissions at every public university.
     The University of Washington announced a few days ago that it will no longer consider race or gender as factors when choosing students -- an abrupt end to a strategy its campuses have used since the 1960s.
     Across the state, however, some public institutions are hinting that they intend to find subtle ways to circumvent the ban. Others are waiting to take their cue from Gov. Gary Locke, a Chinese American Democrat who campaigned against the ban but now has the responsibility of putting it into practice. 

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