Portland, OR

Suit asks insurance for disabled homeowners with pit bulls

June 22, 2015
People with disabilities shouldn't be turned down for homeowners insurance just because they have pit bulls for service dogs, a federal court lawsuit filed in Oregon says.
     Undercover testers who told an insurance company they had disabilities and used pit bulls for "assistance animals" couldn't get a price quote, even for animals a doctor had approved or that had no history of aggression, the lawsuit says.
     The lawsuit knits two strands in the stories of Americans and their animals: the long-running scrap over pit bulls and tensions over the evolving, expanding role of service animals.
     Pit pulls, and some other breeds, have a reputation for aggressive behavior and sometimes are prohibited or restricted - one website lists 700 cities that do. In response, some states have pre-empted local authority to pass "breed-specific legislation." The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals lists 18 states.

Despite 'troubling' fair-housing results, Portland to cut back on testing

April 21, 2015
A new report confirms that black and Latino renters continue to face disproportionate barriers in Portland's rental market four years after city officials pledged to eliminate housing discrimination.
     Undercover testing determined that landlords gave preferential treatment to white prospective renters in 12 of 25 cases, or 48 percent of tests, according to results released Tuesday by the Portland Housing Bureau.
     The testing also found that people with disabilities and families with children faced barriers but at levels far below those for people of color. Testing found differential treatment in seven of 26 cases, or 27 percent of tests. (See full results at the end of this story)

Portland State University to change disability practices and pay more than 160,000 in discrimination suit

February 16, 2014
The Fair Housing Council of Oregon (FHCO) announced today that a Consent Decree has been signed by U.S. District Court, District of Oregon Judge Michael Simon, approving a settlement of more than $160,000 in a disability discrimination case against Portland State University (PSU).
     PSU agreed to sign the Consent Decree and pay $142,500 to Cindy Leland and the FHCO, the identified Plaintiffs in the case, for discriminating against Leland and infringing her legal right to the use of her service animal within university dormitories and required course classrooms. FHCO alleged that PSU had a pattern and practice of discriminating against disabled students who lived in dormitories.
     The action, originally filed on April 20, 2012, has resulted in a first of its kind, university-wide resolution related to discrimination of college students based on disability in Oregon and the United States, and requires that PSU revise disability related policies to ensure they are compliant with the Fair Housing Act (FHA) and the American with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Unlawful discrimination settlement reached

August 23, 2012
The Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries (BOLI) has ended an unlawful discrimination lawsuit against an apartment complex in northeast Portland.
     The lawsuit claimed the owners and operators of the Fantasy Apartments, now Skylark Apartments, would not allow a 9-year-old boy with depression and anxiety disorders to have a companion dog, even with a doctor's recommendation.
     The settlement agreement includes a $75,000 monetary payment. The apartment staff must now undergo new training and monitoring by the state Civil Rights Division at BOLI.

Portland tour showcasing discrimination, segregation warns riders to 'Buckle up'

July 07, 2012
The tour is called "Fasten Your Seat Belts ... It's Been Bumpy Ride," which is ironic because the Blue Star bus that carried 30 passengers around Portland on Saturday didn't have any seat belts. But there were jolting moments in an itinerary designed to show some of the highlights -- or lowlights -- in the city's history of discrimination.
     First stop: A statue of Martin Luther King Jr. outside the Oregon Convention Center. In 1968, shortly after King's assassination, Congress passed the landmark Fair Housing Act. But a recent investigation by The Oregonian found decisions by local government and agencies have meant the Portland area has failed to fulfill the goal set out 44 years ago: to replace segregated neighborhoods with something better.

Testing for housing discrimination delayed again

July 06, 2012
Officials at the Portland Housing Bureau for a third time have rewritten key provisions for proposed fair housing testing, resulting in another delay for a long-awaited barometer of housing discrimination and different treatment.
     The latest change affects fair housing testing promised more than a year ago by city Commissioner Nick Fish in his Fair Housing Action Plan. The city's new schedule would ensure discrimination complaints are filed with state investigators by May 2013, four months beyond what city officials most recently proposed -- and a full two years since city officials released results from their only round of testing.

Deaf student sues, claiming Portland State University didn't allow her service dog in some housing

April 23, 2012
A deaf student and the Fair Housing Council of Oregon are suing Portland State University for more than $1 million claiming that the university has repeatedly discriminated against students with disabilities.
     Student Cindy Leland claims that in fall 2010 university housing employees refused to let her and her service dog live in Stephen Epler Hall because it was carpeted. She and her dog instead were allowed to move into another university building, The Broadway, which does not have carpets.
     She alleges she was routinely harassed -- she believes because of her disability -- with knocks on the door at night. Her dog had been trained to alert her to the knocks, and Leland would get up to discover no one at her door. She ended up sleeping only a few hours a night during finals week. After officials declined her request to install a security camera and the knocks grew more frequent, she moved out.

Apartment manager Norris & Stevens to pay civil rights fines

February 24, 2012
Owners of a Portland apartment complex have agreed to pay $55,000 to the state to settle civil rights charges.
     Oregon Attorney General John Kroger said Friday the owners of Wah Mai Terrace, at 419 S.E. 111th Ave., generated several complaints about housing discrimination from current and former tenants. The renters said Wah Mai Terrace Inc. and property manager Norris & Stevens engaged “in a pattern or practice of discrimination against families with children.”
     The two sides agreed to cooperatively resolve the claims, Kroger said in a statement.

Fish identifies apartment owners named in discrimination audit

May 18, 2011
Portland City Commissioner Nick Fish has released the names of the owners and managers of 26 apartment buildings where a recent audit found evidence of housing discrimination.
     The documents list the properties where the Fair Housing Council of Oregon audit found evidence of discrimination based on race or national origin. One document (PDF) lists specific incidents discovered by investigators, and a narrative (PDF) offers details about what investigators found during their review last year.
     The Portland Housing Bureau, which Fish oversees, sent letters to owners and managers Tuesday to let them know their properties turned up in the audit. The bureau plans to turn the information over to the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries, which investigates allegations of housing discrimination through its civil rights division.

Oregon wants ‘dog friendly’ to be less so

September 02, 2009
Star stopped to scratch herself beside the carrot ginger soup. “Look at her; she’s the calmest dog you’ve ever met, isn’t she?” Lawrence Sax said of Star, his 8-year-old Australian shepherd mix, as he held her leash at a Whole Foods Market here. “Everybody I know loves her.”
     Mr. Sax had apparently overlooked the glare of Stefan Koprinkov. “I love animals,” Mr. Koprinkov, who had to step around the dog in his search for cheese pizza, said later. “But it’s wrong for animals to be in the store.”
     In response to the complaints, Oregon is about to begin an unusual campaign, distributing posters and pamphlets to about 4,500 retail stores that sell food. The message is this: Animals, except those trained to help the disabled, are not allowed.

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