Washington, DC

Decades-Old Housing Discrimination Case Plagues Donald Trump

September 28, 2016
During the presidential debate on Monday night, Hillary Clinton raised a 1973 federal lawsuit brought against Donald Trump and his company for alleged racial discrimination at Trump housing developments in New York.
     The Justice Department sued Donald Trump, his father, Fred, and Trump Management in order to obtain a settlement in which Trump and his father would promise not to discriminate. The case eventually was settled two years later after Trump tried to countersue the Justice Department for $100 million for making false statements. Those allegations were dismissed by the court.

Disabled residents sue Prince George's county housing authority

July 29, 2016
A group of disabled residents have filed a federal class-action lawsuit against the Housing Authority of Prince George's County because they say the county has refused to make their apartments handicap accessible.
     Residents in public housing told News4 that simple tasks like bathing, cooking and dressing have become huge challenges for them to perform in their own homes.
     Kenneth Galloway lost both of his legs a few years ago due to complications from diabetes.
     

Fair Chance at Housing Act offers solutions for people with criminal records

June 24, 2016
Each year, more than 600,000 people are released from federal and state prisons, while roughly 11 million more cycle through local jails. But despite serving their time, many of these formerly incarcerated individuals find themselves continuously punished for their past mistakes. This is particularly true when they seek housing — a refuge, a place where they can get back on their feet.
     Resources, especially affordable housing, are already scarce in many of the communities where formerly incarcerated people return. Indeed, there is currently a shortage of 7.2 million affordable rental units that are available to extremely low income households. People with no interaction with the criminal justice system struggle to find affordable housing. Having a criminal record creates additional barriers that are often insurmountable.
     Too frequently, people with criminal records are refused housing or are precluded from rejoining their families, as most plan to do. That’s because housing providers have broad discretion in deciding who is permitted to live in their properties. As a result, formerly incarcerated individuals looking to make the most of their second chance instead find themselves at risk of becoming homeless or recidivating.

Justice department settles housing discrimination lawsuit against owners of Carson City, Nevada, rental properties

May 27, 2016
WASHINGTON – (RealEstateRama) — The Justice Department announced today that Carson City, Nevada, rental property owners Betty Brinson and Hughston Brinson have agreed to pay $36,000 to resolve allegations that they discriminated against families with children in violation of the Fair Housing Act (FHA).
     The lawsuit alleged that the Brinsons discriminated against families with children by placing a series of advertisements for a single-family rental home in the local newspaper that indicated a preference for adult tenants and refusing to rent the home to a family with three children because they did not want children living at the property.
     The complaint also alleged that Betty Brinson placed discriminatory advertisements for another property she owns – a 36-unit apartment complex in Carson City – that indicated 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 that they were refused the opportunity to rent the single-family home. Under the proposed consent order, which still must be approved by the U.S. District Court for the District of Nevada, the defendants will pay $14,000 to the HUD complainants, $10,000 into a victim fund to compensate other aggrieved families and $12,000 to the United States as a civil penalty.
     In addition, the proposed consent decree prohibits the defendants from discriminating in the future against families with children and requires the defendants to receive training on the requirements of the FHA and provide periodic reports to the department.

Insurance denials fuel racial segregation, suit alleges

May 17, 2016
The National Fair Housing Alliance filed suit against a major insurance company Tuesday, alleging it refuses to insure buildings where tenants pay rent with public vouchers, a violation of local and federal housing laws.
     Travelers Indemnity Co. has consistently denied commercial building owners habitational insurance — critical insurance for multi-unit building owners that covers tenant liabilities — according to the lawsuit, filed in US District Court.
      Connecticut-based Travelers said the company does not comment on pending litigation.
     The denials of insurance are exacerbating a lack of affordable housing in Washington, said Shanna Smith, president of the National Fair Housing Alliance. That’s because building owners are refusing to rent to residents who use vouchers, since it makes it more difficult to obtain insurance, she said.

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.

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.

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.”

HUD’s new guidance on criminal records in housing is a great step for second chances, Says CAP’s Carmel Martin

April 05, 2016
The Department of Housing and Urban Development, or HUD, released guidance on Monday for landlords and sellers on consideration of criminal records in housing, making it clear that blanket bans on renting or selling to anyone with a criminal record constitute illegal discrimination in violation of the Fair Housing Act.
     This measure will go a long way toward giving returning citizens and all Americans with criminal records a fair shot at securing safe and stable housing for themselves and their families. Carmel Martin, Executive Vice President for Policy at the Center for American Progress, issued the following statement in response: We commend HUD Secretary Julián Castro for taking this important step to enable Americans with criminal records to have a second chance.
     As CAP has shown, having even a minor criminal record can present lifelong barriers to the basic building blocks of economic security and mobility—including housing, as four in five landlords use criminal background checks on potential tenants. This has broad implications—not only for the individuals who find themselves unable to find housing but also for their families, as nearly half of U.S. children now have a parent with a criminal record. Having a criminal record remains a major driver of poverty and racial inequality.
     Moreover, access to safe and stable housing is critical to successful re-entry—and is a powerful anti-recidivism tool. By ensuring that American families have a fair shot at securing housing, this measure has the potential to address housing discrimination, keep families together, and save taxpayer dollars in the form of reduced incarceration costs—all while increasing public safety.

HUD’s new guidance on criminal records in housing is a great step for Second Chances

April 05, 2016
The Department of Housing and Urban Development, or HUD, released guidance on Monday for landlords and sellers on consideration of criminal records in housing, making it clear that blanket bans on renting or selling to anyone with a criminal record constitute illegal discrimination in violation of the Fair Housing Act.
     This measure will go a long way toward giving returning citizens and all Americans with criminal records a fair shot at securing safe and stable housing for themselves and their families. Carmel Martin, Executive Vice President for Policy at the Center for American Progress, issued the following statement in response: We commend HUD Secretary Julián Castro for taking this important step to enable Americans with criminal records to have a second chance.
     As CAP has shown, having even a minor criminal record can present lifelong barriers to the basic building blocks of economic security and mobility—including housing, as four in five landlords use criminal background checks on potential tenants.
     This has broad implications—not only for the individuals who find themselves unable to find housing but also for their families, as nearly half of U.S. children now have a parent with a criminal record. Having a criminal record remains a major driver of poverty and racial inequality. Moreover, access to safe and stable housing is critical to successful re-entry—and is a powerful anti-recidivism tool. By ensuring that American families have a fair shot at securing housing, this measure has the potential to address housing discrimination, keep families together, and save taxpayer dollars in the form of reduced incarceration costs—all while increasing public safety.

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