Justice Department reaches $475,000 settlement with Beaumont, Texas, to resolve disability discrimination in housing lawsuit

May 05, 2016
The Justice Department today announced that the city of Beaumont, Texas, has agreed to pay $475,000 and change its zoning and land use practices to resolve a lawsuit alleging that it discriminated against persons with intellectual or developmental disabilities who sought to live in small group homes in the city’s residential neighborhoods. The consent decree must still be approved by the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas. The lawsuit, filed on May 26, 2015, alleged that the city violated the Fair Housing Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act when it imposed a one-half mile spacing rule that prohibited many small group homes from operating in Beaumont.
     The suit further sought to prohibit the city from imposing fire code requirements that exceeded those imposed by the state of Texas as part of its certification and funding of such homes. These restrictions prohibited numerous persons with intellectual or developmental disabilities from living in Beaumont and resulted in the institutionalization in a nursing home of a woman who was forced to move out of her home. Although the city alleged that its restrictions were justified by a Texas statute, the state of Texas later clarified in a statement it submitted to the court during the litigation that neither the spacing requirement nor the heightened fire code requirements were required by Texas law. Under the terms of the consent decree, the city will allow small group homes to operate in any residential district and will not subject such homes to fire code requirements that exceed the state’s requirements for certification of such homes.
     The city will also pay $435,000 in monetary damages to 11 individuals with disabilities, their family members and companion care providers who were subject to the city’s discriminatory code enforcement practices. The city will also pay $15,000 to the United States as a civil penalty and $25,000 to Disability Rights Texas, the organization that represents the individuals who filed the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) complaints and intervened in the United States’ lawsuit.

HUD charges White Plain, New York, Co-op with housing discrimination for refusing to sell unit to persons with disabilities

May 05, 2016
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced today that it is charging a White Plains, New York, co-op with housing discrimination for refusing to grant an exception to its policies that would allow a person with disabilities to buy a unit there.
     HUD’s Office of Regional Counsel for New England, which has jurisdiction over the case, issued the Charge of Discrimination on April 26.Read the charge. The Fair Housing Act protects residents with disabilities who request reasonable accommodations in policies or practices.
     Additionally, the law makes it illegal to make housing unavailable to any person because of a disability. “Persons with disabilities depend on reasonable accommodations to level the playing field when it comes to finding a place to call home. Refusing to provide them denies access to housing and it violates the law,” said Gustavo Velasquez, HUD Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity. “HUD will continue to take action when owners and homeowner associations fail to meet their obligations under the Fair Housing Act.”

Housing, lending discrimination persist in area

May 05, 2016
Discrimination persists in mortgage lending and housing in the Lower Hudson Valley, potentially making it harder for certain groups of people to find homes here, according to two reports issued this week.
     The reports were released by Westchester Residential Opportunities, a nonprofit with offices in White Plains and Mount Vernon, and were based on investigations funded by grants from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
     "We're very concerned that there's very limited affordable and accessible housing in Westchester," said Marlene Zarfes, WRO’s fair-housing director. "By doing this study, what we're seeing is (that) discrimination still exists among many protected classes including race, familial status — which means people with children — disability and source of income."

Feds charge Oswego landlord for not allowing tenant to have dog for emotional support

May 05, 2016
An Oswego landlord has been charged with housing discrimination after refusing to allow a tenant to move in with a service dog for emotional support, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development said Thursday.
     HUD charged Hillside Park Real Estate in Oswego with violating the Fair Housing Act, claiming the company denied or limited housing to a person with a disability who requires the use of a service animal.
     Federal law requires property owners to waive "no pet" policies in cases involving assistance or service animals.

Neighbors upset over discriminatory sign outside home

May 04, 2016
Homeowners are upset after a sign popped up in a Southport yard racially targeting their immigrant neighbors.
     It was in front of a vacant home that’s for sale at 7406 Earl Court. The sign read, “No More Chin,” referencing the Chin community of Burma that lives on the south side.
     Since the home is vacant, neighbors aren’t sure who put the sign up. Finding the culprit thought isn’t their priority; they’re making sure the Chin community knows it’s welcome.

Mayor visits Westvale Manor

April 20, 2016
Anderson Mayor Thomas Broderick Jr. said the conditions at Westvale Manor were not as bad as he expected following a visit to the apartment complex on Tuesday.
     City officials joined Charles Weatherly Jr., executive director of the Anderson Housing Authority (AHA), at Westvale Manor, which is the subject of a federal class-action lawsuit filed April 11.
     The Fair Housing Center of Central Indiana and two tenants against the government-subsidized complex cited sexual harassment, racial discrimination and health problems related to conditions that the management failed to address.
     Among the common complaints, according to the lawsuit: Water leaks, mold, pests and inadequate maintenance of the apartments.

Reserve developer sues Tinley

April 19, 2016
The developer of a proposed apartment building in Tinley Park filed a federal lawsuit Tuesday accusing village officials of violating federal and state fair housing laws and asks a judge to stop them from "unlawfully interfering" in the project.
     Buckeye Community Hope Foundation also seeks unspecified compensatory and punitive damages.
     Plans for the nonprofit's The Reserve, a 47-unit building at 183rd Street and Oak Park Avenue, have been on hold since a vote by the village's Plan Commission was tabled in early February. Tinley Park also has asked the Cook County Sheriff's Inspector General to look at the review process behind the development.
     

Reserve developer sues Tinley

April 19, 2016
The developer of a proposed apartment building in Tinley Park filed a federal lawsuit Tuesday accusing village officials of violating federal and state fair housing laws and asks a judge to stop them from "unlawfully interfering" in the project.
     Buckeye Community Hope Foundation also seeks unspecified compensatory and punitive damages.
     Plans for the nonprofit's The Reserve, a 47-unit building at 183rd Street and Oak Park Avenue, have been on hold since a vote by the village's Plan Commission was tabled in early February. Tinley Park also has asked the Cook County Sheriff's Inspector General to look at the review process behind the development.
     

HUD files housing discrimination charge after woman told to move to housing for "handicapped persons"

April 19, 2016
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced today it is charging landlords in Beloit, Kansas with violating the Fair Housing Act after allegedly discriminating against a female tenant with disabilities by not renewing her lease, sending her a notice containing discriminatory statements about her disability, and retaliating against her for filing a previous fair housing complaint.
     Read HUD’s charge. The Fair Housing Act makes it unlawful to make housing unavailable to any person because of a disability. It also prohibits retaliating against a person because they filed a fair housing complaint.
     “No one should have to deal with the prospect of losing their home because they have a disability or be subjected to retaliation for standing up for their rights,” said Gustavo Velasquez, HUD Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity. “Landlords are required to grant reasonable accommodations when tenants need them and HUD will continue working to ensure that they meet that obligation.”

Richfield residents wait for decision on injunction in discrimination suit

April 14, 2016
After a court hearing last week, a handful of Concierge Apartments residents expected to hear by April 15 whether they will have to move out of the Richfield apartment complex by May 31.
     After the September sale of what was then called Crossroads at Penn Apartments, the new property owner established new rental criteria that meant many of the 698-unit building’s tenants would have to move out, prompting a class-action lawsuit filed against Soderberg Apartment Specialists and MSP Crossroads in February.
     The suit, claiming housing discrimination, names 35 tenants as plaintiffs. Of those, an estimated five to eight residents still reside at Concierge, according to court documents filed on their behalf.

Pages

Subscribe to National Fair Housing Advocate Online RSS