Philadelphia, PA

Housing crunch for tenants

May 14, 2007
Ripan Patel and his family moved into Pennfield Manor Apartments a month ago only to hear they'll have to leave in September.
     He is among many tenants of the Hatfield Township complex who said they have 90 days from the expiration of their leases to find somewhere else to live. Residents of the 264-unit complex now face a difficult situation in a market where affordable housing options are few and far between.

New system utilized to detect, stop HUD fraud

November 06, 2006
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development is cracking down on those committing fraud and utilizing some new tools in the process. Special Agent in Charge Joseph W. Clarke and Assistant Special Agent in charge René Febles, of HUD's Office of Inspector General, explained the ways they detect defrauders in an interview last week in an effort to deter others from taking advantage of the system.
     HUD is a government agency that assists tenants pay the market value rent in an area using federal money. The department works through local organizations, such as the Montgomery County Housing Authority in Montgomery County.

Rental company settles discrimination lawsuit

September 18, 2006
The Fair Housing Council of Suburban Philadelphia settled a federal lawsuit against PMMC Management Co. and several of their apartment complexes in Chester, Lancaster and Montgomery counties for $34,224.
     The housing council determined, through testing, that PMMC applied occupancy policies that disparately affected families with children, violating the familial status provision of the federal Fair Housing Act and the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act.

Growing family's housing-discrimination suit is settled

August 31, 2006
The Fair Housing Council of Suburban Philadelphia has settled a discrimination suit involving a family threatened with eviction from a West Chester apartment complex because the couple was expecting a second child.
     Council executive director James Berry said yesterday that Audubon Manor Apartments had told the couple that the lease would not be renewed because only three people were permitted in two-bedroom units. Based on federal guidelines that two people per bedroom was "reasonable" under the Fair Housing Act, the council sued in U.S. District Court.

Two sentenced in Latino home-improvement scheme

May 05, 2006
Two men were sentenced Thursday afternoon to prison time for predatory lending practices that prosecutors say bilked low-income homeowners.
     U.S. District Court Judge Legrome D. Davis in Philadelphia sentenced Edwin Rivera to 41 months imprisonment and his partner, Brad Marks, to 20 months. They were also given three years' probation, required to repay victims $400,000, and given a lifetime ban from the contracting business.

Education and predatory lending

April 25, 2006
A homeowner wanted to remodel her bathroom, and Edwin Rivera, who operated a home repair company in Philadelphia, helped her get a loan. She trusted Rivera because he spoke Spanish.
     He persuaded her to give him $7,000 up front for the project. Workers came to the house, ripped out the old bathroom, but never returned. They hadn't been paid because Rivera pocketed the $7,000. The woman spent the next several months showering with a garden hose in a kiddie pool in her basement.

Reputed Klansman jovial as judge resets trial in 1964 civil rights killings

February 25, 2005
Reputed Klansman Edgar Ray Killen, his orange jail jumpsuit replaced by a dark business suit and tie, appeared jovial during a brief court appearance that resulted in his murder trial being delayed three weeks.
     During Thursday's hearing before Circuit Judge Marcus Gordon, the 80-year-old part-time preacher was flanked by his wife and other family members. Gone was his strained appearance that was noticeable in court proceedings that followed his Jan. 6 arrest on charges of killing three civil rights workers in Neshoba County in 1964.
     Gordon delayed the trial until April 18 to give lawyers time to prepare a questionnaire for potential jurors and to give the defense time to examine previously undisclosed records.

OPINION: Revitalization a guise for unfair treatment

February 15, 2005
Imagine walking through a brand new development of beautiful homes decked out with balconies, garages and freshly paved driveways. Imagine sprinklers spraying cool water onto lush, green lawns in a quaint little cul-de-sac. Truly, this must be a suburban paradise.
     Now, imagine turning the corner and finding abandoned, partially destroyed homes and empty lots filled with trash. Is this the Twilight Zone? Not exactly. Welcome to North Philadelphia.
     Gentrification has become a dirty word around these poor, working class neighborhoods, but why? The Philadelphia Housing Authority is swooping in and rehabilitating entire blocks, creating beautiful new homes that anyone would be happy to raise a family in. Crime is going down, middle class families are moving in and Center City is moving its boundaries up to include Girard Avenue.

Mortgage broker fined $910K for 'reverse redlining'

December 21, 2004
McGlawn & McGlawn Inc., a minority-owned mortgage broker based in Elkins Park, Pa., was fined more than $910,000 by the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission for allegedly targeting African-American consumers with predatory loans in Philadelphia neighborhoods. The commission called the practice "reverse redlining" because it alleged that McGlawn & McGlawn was specifically targeting African-American customers and the neighborhoods where they live. Redlining is the practice in which financial institutions deny credit to certain groups and neighborhoods.
     The commission found that the firm sold loans with unreasonable fees and interest rates to a group of consumers. The penalties included real damages and so called "embarrassment and humiliation" awards, as well as a civil penalty.

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