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Washington votes to ban affirmative action

November 04, 1998
Washington became the second state to ban racial or gender preferences in government hiring and contracting or in college admissions.
     Backers said Tuesday's result showed voters understood that affirmative action programs are unfair.
     ``They are clearly saying `we want to treat everybody equally,''' said Ward Connerly, the California businessman whose organization spearheaded passage of a similar measure in his state. The group also helped plan and finance the Washington campaign.      Former Republican Gov. Dan Evans, a leading foe of the measure, blamed Connerly's ``outside money'' and influence for passage. 

Protesters picket site of planned group home

November 02, 1998
Carrying signs bearing slogans such as "Save Our Neighborhood" and "Coming Soon -- Schizophrenics," about two dozen people gathered yesterday to protest the planned opening of a group home for mentally ill homeless adults in Falls Church.
     The protesters said they were concerned because the eight-bedroom home -- on Glen Carlyn Road, just off Route 7 in Baileys Crossroads -- is across the street from a Catholic grade school. There are also several families with children in the neighborhood.
     "Our concern is not so much that they're providing a shelter for the homeless; it's the structure of the program," said Craig Zamuda, a neighborhood resident who organized the protest. "They can come and go as they please. . . . They can bring in visitors. We're concerned about the safety of our children."

Affirmative action on ballot in Washington

October 29, 1998
Sometimes the smallest of sparks can ignite the most monumental of firestorms.
     One such spark flickered to life in 1991, when a former soldier got beat out by his wife for a chance at a law enforcement job. Scott Smith wondered why: He and 274 other applicants had ranked higher than she did. When told there was a special program to hire women, he moved on.
     But he didn't forget. When Smith was elected to the state house in 1994, he began a push that has led to a fierce campaign over affirmative action.
     The stakes are high. Initiative 200 on the November 3 Washington ballot bans preferences based on race, ethnicity and gender in government hiring, contracting and education. Its passage could influence the tone of the debate nationwide.  

Realtors get voluntary diversity training

October 28, 1998
Letting Saudi Arabians see the soles of your shoes is considered rude. In Australia, it's flashing the thumbs-up sign. In northern Europe, it's standing too close to someone. In the Mediterranean, it's standing too far.
     Those are examples the National Association of Realtors has used in promoting its new "At Home With Diversity: One America" program. The one-day course teaches real estate professionals how to market to the growing number of multicultural and minority home buyers in the United States.
     "If we want to expand our business, we must be able to communicate with and relate to all buyers and sellers, regardless of ethnic and cultural differences," said E'toile Libbett, who heads the Realtors' Equal Opportunity and Cultural Diversity Committee. 

Senate confirms top HUD posts

October 26, 1998
The Senate has confirmed President Clinton's nominees for five top posts at the Department of Housing and Urban Development:
      Saul Ramirez, Jr. of Laredo, TX, as Deputy Secretary.
      William C. Apgar of Newton, MA, as Assistant Secretary for Housing and Federal Housing Commissioner.
      Harold Lucas of Newark, NJ, as Assistant Secretary for Public and Indian Housing.
      Cardell Cooper of East Orange, NJ, as Assistant Secretary for Community Planning and Development.
      Ira G. Peppercorn of Indianapolis, as Director of the Office of Multifamily Housing Assistance Restructuring.
      "These talented and dedicated public servants will play a key role in helping HUD to succeed in its mission," Secretary Andrew Cuomo said.

Insurance bias suit nets $100M judgment

October 26, 1998
The first Fair Housing Act lawsuit involving discrimination in the provision of homeowners insurance has resulted in a jury verdict of $100.5 million.
     The case, brought by Housing Opportunities Made Equal (HOME) of Richmond, alleged that Nationwide Insurance discriminated against homeowners in predominantly black neighborhoods in the Richmond area. The jury deliberated for about three hours before returning the verdict after a two-week trial.

Rate of home ownership hits record high

October 22, 1998
The U.S. homeownership rate soared to a record high 66.8 percent in the third quarter of this year. The rate, which measures the percentage of families who own the homes they live in, was up from 66 percent in the second quarter of this year.
     The number of families owning their own homes hit 69.1 million in the third quarter - the highest number in American history, and up from 68.3 million in the second quarter. The third quarter covers July, August and September.

HUD refocuses fraud probe after outcry

October 21, 1998
After triggering a racial uproar with a proposed probe of "urban fraud" in three cities with African American mayors, the nation's top housing investigator has retargeted her investigation on rural, suburban and urban areas in five states and the District.
     Inspector General Susan Gaffney of the Department of Housing and Urban Development said yesterday that after receiving a flood of complaints about singling out only three black-led cities for the inquiry, "we had to rethink" the plan. "Otherwise, our ability to conduct the investigation would have been curtailed; people would have been suspicious of our every move," she said.
     The three cities originally targeted were Baltimore, New Orleans and San Francisco.  Under the new plan, Gaffney will look at housing programs in central California, including Los Angeles and its suburbs; the eastern area of New York, including Brooklyn, Queens and Long Island suburbs; the entire state of Maryland, including Baltimore; and the District of Columbia. Northern Texas, including Dallas and Fort Worth, and northern Illinois, including Chicago, also will be investigated. 

Anti-bigotry activist to move after threats

October 21, 1998
As a foe of bigotry and a member of the Reading-Berks Human Relations Council, Bonnie Jouhari taught others to look for the signs: swastikas, racial slurs, images of violence.
     But she didn't expect this: Since February, Jouhari says, fliers have been strewn on her lawn branding her a "Race Traitor." She has received anonymous phone calls suggesting she write a will. She says a Ku Klux Klan leader took to sitting on the bench outside her Reading office window, clutching a fistful of hate leaflets, and staring at her while she worked.
     Yesterday, in a move that some experts said was unprecedented, the state Attorney General's Office sued the operators of a Web site that had targeted Jouhari.
     But she'd already made up her mind. She's leaving the state.  

DOJ settles accessibility cases in Chicago

October 20, 1998
Architects and homebuilders in the Chicago metropolitan area will now provide accessible housing units for individuals with disabilities, under four agreements today filed by the Justice Department. The Department also sued a suburban architect and builder for not providing accessible units in compliance with federal law.
     The lawsuit and settlements, all filed in U.S. District Court in Chicago, allege that the companies violated the Fair Housing Act by not providing accessible features such as: doors wide enough for wheelchairs; light switches, electrical outlets, and thermostats in accessible locations; and reinforcements in the bathroom walls to allow for installation of grab bars.
     Under the terms of the settlements, the architects and builders
have agreed to compensate people affected by the deficiencies, revise plans for unbuilt units to comply with the Fair Housing Act, make changes to finished units to enhance accessibility,build additional units in compliance with the Act even where those units would not be covered by it, train employees, and provide money to fund structural modifications of non-complying units by their owners. 


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