Orthodox jewish tenants are suing LeFrank City

August 02, 2015
The Daily News reports that a group of Orthodox Jewish tenants at LeFrak City are suing the massive Corona housing complex, alleging religious discrimination under the Fair Housing Act.
     In 2012, the 20-building complex embarked on a huge renovation, adding lobby doors that only open with electronic keys, as opposed to traditional metal keys. Observant Jews are prohibited from "breaking or creating" an electric circuit on Shabbat and on a number of holy days, which means the "hundreds of Jewish families" that live in the complex cannot use the doors. The suit is being filed by residents Sulaymon Ibragimov and Murod Takhalov.
     The suit claims that tenants are forced to wait outside for someone to open the doors or call the elevators, and is calling for the installation of one door in every building that opens with a regular lock, as well as a "Shabbos elevator" in each building (or, a preprogrammed elevator that stops on every floor so that Orthodox tenants do not have to push buttons).

Helpful hint from Julian Castro on how to desegregate the park cities

July 29, 2015
So excited earlier this month. We read that Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro and his boss, the president, are not the pushovers on fair housing we thought they were. Not anymore. Apparently, now they’re tough.
     Nine months ago it was looking pretty sad here. That’s when Castro, former mayor of San Antonio, was just taking the reins at HUD. Practically the first thing he did when he got into the office was gut a four-year federal housing investigation of Dallas.
     After schmoozing with Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings, Castro kicked the pins from under his own HUD fair housing staff. They thought they had compiled a bullet-proof case against Dallas for misusing HUD money over the span of a decade to fund a sub rosa program of deliberate racial segregation.
     Nobody ever explained why a four-year probe and a tough letter of findings wound up in the circular file, but, anyway, who cares now? Castro and President Obama have unveiled a brand-new, get-tough, no-more-schmoozing, no more Mr. Nice Guy policy on fair housing. They say they will use super sophisticated new high-tech techniques to sleuth out racially segregated communities and then marshal various federal resources to work to overcome those patterns.

Living Apart: How the government betrayed a landmark civil rights law

July 29, 2015
It’s long been something of a slogan for President Obama and his administration: one’s ZIP code should not determine one’s future.
     This month, the administration announced an effort it said would put some muscle behind the slogan, saying it would enforce a new set of rules involving federally subsidized housing that require cities and counties to actively document and combat segregation in their communities.
     Julian Castro, the secretary of Housing and Urban Development, said in a statement that the rules “will give local leaders the tools they need to provide all Americans with access to safe, affordable housing in communities that are rich with opportunity.”

Justice Department settles discrimination lawsuit with Biafora's Inc.

July 28, 2015
A new apartment complex with 100 wheelchair accessible units will be built in Morgantown as part of a settlement between the Justice Department and a Morgantown developer. Biafora's Inc. was accused of violating the Fair Housing Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act by building 23 complexes in West Virginia and Pennsylvania that were inaccessible to people with disabilities. The group, and several affiliated companies, have agreed to pay $205,000. They'll also make certain changes to fix the accessibility issues to some buildings. These include replacing or making sloped portions of sidewalks, installing cabinets in bathrooms and kitchens to provide room for wheelchairs and widening doorways. The defendants will also pay $180,000 to establish a settlement fund for the purpose of compensating individuals with disabilities who have been impacted by the accessibility violations and $25,000 as a civil penalty.

High Desert fair housing claims settled for $2M

July 20, 2015
The Justice Department has settled claims that Los Angeles County Housing Authority and two cities in the Antelope Valley discriminated against hundreds of African-Americans who received housing assistance.
     Palmdale, Lancaster and the housing authority agreed Monday to compensate black residents in low-income subsidized, or Section 8, housing after prosecutors filed a federal complaint alleging a campaign to force residents out of the cities.
     According to the Justice Department, city officials contracted with the housing authority to spend "substantial financial resources to voucher-program enforcement efforts" and enlisted LA Sheriff Department Deputies to assist them.
     Deputies harassed black people in subsidized housing, searching homes with help from housing authority investigators who descended on homes with as many as nine deputy sheriffs in tow, the Justice Department had alleged.

Newport Beach settles legal battle over sober-living homes

July 15, 2015
Newport Beach has reached the end of its seven-year legal battle over sober-living homes with a settlement agreement announced Tuesday.
     City attorney Aaron Harp said Newport Beach settled lawsuits with Pacific Shores Properties, Newport Coast Recovery and Yellowstone Women’s First Step House, for a total of $5.25 million.
     The city spent at least $4 million in legal proceedings on the cases, according to Register archives.
     Steven Polin, attorney for the group-home operators, said his clients were more interested in ending the proceedings than battling in court.

DOJ sues Nevada housing provider for discriminating against families with children

July 13, 2015
WASHINGTON, D.C. – July 13, 2015 – (RealEstateRama) — The Justice Department today filed a lawsuit against the owners of rental properties in Carson City, Nevada, alleging violations of the Fair Housing Act. The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Nevada, charges that Betty Brinson and Hughston Brinson, the owners of a single-family rental home, discriminated against families with children by placing a series of advertisements in the local newspaper indicating a preference for adult tenants, and by refusing to rent the home to a family with three children because they did not want children living at the property.
     The suit also alleges that Ms. Brinson placed discriminatory advertisements for another property she owns – a 36-unit apartment complex – indicating a preference for adult tenants.
     The lawsuit arose as a result of a complaint filed with the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) by the family who alleged they were refused the opportunity to rent the single-family home because they were a family with children. After HUD investigated the complaint, it issued a charge of discrimination and the matter was referred to the Justice Department.

HUD issues guidance to help avoid discrimination to LGBT Americans seeking HUD-assisted housing

July 13, 2015
As part of the White House Conference on Aging today, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) issued guidance to better serve and help avoid discrimination to LGBT Americans seeking HUD-assisted or HUD-insured housing. The guidance will help clarify the Equal Access to Housing in HUD Programs Regardless of Sexual Orientation or Gender Identity Rule (Equal Access Rule), which was originally published in 2012. The Equal Access Rule ensures that housing across HUD programs is open to all eligible individuals regardless of actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender identity or marital status, including Section 202 Supportive Housing for the Elderly.
     “Every American deserves to live with dignity, regardless of who they love or who they are,” said HUD Secretary Julián Castro. “HUD is committed to fighting unjust discrimination and to expanding housing opportunity for all.”
     HUD’s guidance on multifamily and insured housing programs clarifies that a determination of eligibility for housing that is assisted by HUD or subject to a mortgage insured by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) shall be made in accordance with the eligibility requirements provided for such a program by HUD, and be made available without regard to actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender identity, or marital status. The guidance also clarifies that no owner of administrator of HUD-assisted or HUD-insured housing, approved lender in an FHA mortgage insurance program, nor any recipient or sub-recipient of HUD funds may inquire about the sexual orientation or gender identity of an applicant for, or occupant of, HUD-assisted housing or housing whose financing is insured by HUD, whether renter or owner occupied.

West Loop becoming a 'Bigot Neighborhood,' Alderman suggests in rent fight

July 08, 2015
After fielding complaints about new rental developments in the West Loop for months, one alderman has a new word to describe neighbors' opposition to renters: "discrimination."
     At a Tuesday night meeting to consider a proposed 80-unit apartment building near the Morgan 'L' station, Ald. Walter Burnett Jr. (27th) said that renters have just as much of a right to live in the West Loop as condo owners and homeowners do.
     "Quite frankly, the [opposition to rentals] in this neighborhood is a bunch of bunk," Burnett said. "Most people in this neighborhood have been renting out their condos for a long time."
     From now on, the alderman said all developers who want to build in the West Loop neighborhood located in the 27th Ward will be required to dedicate 10 percent of units built on site for affordable housing.

HUD announces final rule on affirmatively furthering fair housing

July 08, 2015
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced a final rule today to equip communities that receive HUD funding with data and tools to help them meet long-standing fair housing obligations in their use of HUD funds. HUD will also provide additional guidance and technical assistance to facilitate local decision-making on fair housing priorities and goals for affordable housing and community development.
     For more than forty years, HUD funding recipients have been obligated by law to reduce barriers to fair housing, so everyone can access affordable, quality housing. Established in the Fair Housing Act of 1968, the law directs HUD and its program participants to promote fair housing and equal opportunity. This obligation was intended to ensure that every person in America has the right to fair housing, regardless of their race, color, national origin, religion, sex, disability or familial status. The final rule aims to provide all HUD program participants with clear guidelines and data they can use to achieve those goals.
     “As a former mayor, I know firsthand that strong communities are vital to the well-being and prosperity of families,” said HUD Secretary Julián Castro. “Unfortunately, too many Americans find their dreams limited by where they come from, and a ZIP code should never determine a child’s future.
     This important step will give local leaders the tools they need to provide all Americans with access to safe, affordable housing in communities that are rich with opportunity.” -

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