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HUD reaches agreement with California landlords resolving claims of discrimination against Mexican applicants

March 24, 2016
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced today an agreement with a Cupertino, California-based property management company, its agents and the owners of a Santa Clara apartment complex to resolve allegations they discriminated against applicants based upon their national origin. HUD alleged that the Salwasser Group, Inc. (doing business as Income Property Specialists) and property owners Gary and Mary Drieger discriminated against prospective renters by refusing to accept Mexican forms of identification, while encouraging a Canadian passport holder to apply for an apartment.
     The Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in rental, sales or home lending transactions based on a person’s national origin. This includes discrimination based on a person’s ancestry or country of birth outside the United States.
     “Where a person is from should not influence the housing options that are available to them,” said Gustavo Velasquez, HUD Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity. “The Fair Housing Act requires property owners to treat everyone equally and HUD will continue to take action when they fail to meet that obligation.” The case came to HUD’s attention when Project Sentinel, a fair housing organization based in Santa Clara, filed a complaint after performing fair housing testing that allegedly showed that the owners, through the management company, discriminated on the basis of national origin by refusing to rent, and imposing different terms and conditions regarding government-issued forms of identification.

DOJ obtains $130,000 settlement in lawsuit against Indiana Mobile Home Park for discriminating against families with children

March 24, 2016
The Justice Department announced that the corporate owner and agent of Gentle Manor Estates have agreed to pay $130,000 to settle a Justice Department lawsuit alleging familial status discrimination. The settlement must still be approved by the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Indiana.
     The lawsuit, filed in May 2015, alleged that Gentle Manor Estates LLC and John Townsend violated the Fair Housing Act by maintaining and enforcing a discriminatory policy of refusing to allow families with children to live at Gentle Manor Estates, a 173-lot mobile home park in Crown Point, Indiana. The allegations were based on evidence generated by the department’s Fair Housing Testing Program, in which individuals pose as renters to gather information about possible discriminatory practices.
     “The Fair Housing Act guarantees families with children the right to choose a home without facing unlawful barriers of discrimination,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “The Justice Department will continue its vigorous enforcement of the Fair Housing Act to ensure that equal access to housing – a bedrock of the American dream – remains a reality for all families in our country.”

HUD and First Bank of Kansas City reach a 2.8 million settlement

March 01, 2016
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced today an agreement with First Federal Bank of Kansas City to resolve allegations of ‘redlining’ against African American mortgage applicants.
     HUD and two fair housing organizations claimed the lender’s designated service area effectively excluded African American neighborhoods, limiting residential mortgage lending to persons based upon their race.
     Read the HUD-mediated agreement announced today. The Fair Housing Actmakes it unlawful for any person or other entity whose business includes residential real estate-related transactions to discriminate against any person because of race. “Homeownership should never be affected by the color of a person’s skin. This agreement helps to ensure that all qualified families in the Kansas City area get a fair shot at owning their own home, regardless of race,” said HUD Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity Gustavo Velasquez.
     “HUD will continue to work with banks across the nation to ensure they follow the Fair Housing Act.”

DOJ settles housing discrimination lawsuit against owner of North Fort Myers,Florida mobile home park

March 01, 2016
The Justice Department announced today that Thomas Mere, the owner and operator of Mere’s Mobile Home and Recreational Vehicle Park in North Fort Myers, Florida, has agreed to pay $40,000 to resolve allegations that he discriminated against African Americans in violation of the Fair Housing Act.
     The settlement, which is in the form of a consent order, must still be approved by the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida. The government’s complaint, also filed today, alleges that the defendant falsely told African Americans that no mobile homes, recreational vehicles or recreational vehicle lots were immediately available for rent, but told similarly-situated white persons that they were, in fact, available for rent. According to the complaint, the defendant encouraged prospective white renters to consider residing at Mere’s Park and discouraged African Americans from residing there by, for example, referring African Americans to another mobile home and RV park, making discouraging comments about units that were available for rent and failing to provide African Americans complete and accurate information about available units and lots.
     The lawsuit is based on the results of testing conducted by the department’s Fair Housing Testing Program, in which individuals pose as renters to gather information about possible discriminatory practices. “Owners of rental properties cannot pick and choose residents based on race or color,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “The Justice Department will continue to hold owners who violate the law accountable for their discriminatory conduct.”

DOJ settles with housing authority of Baltimore city for failure to provide accessible housing to people with disabilities

November 02, 2015
The Justice Department announced today that a federal district court has approved a supplemental consent decree between the United States, the Maryland Disability Law Center and the Housing Authority of Baltimore City (HABC). The original consent decree contained remedies for HABC’s failure to provide accessible housing to persons with disabilities. The supplemental consent decree, which was approved today by U.S. District Judge J. Frederick Motz of the District of Maryland, continues and amends certain terms in the original consent order in United States v. HABC, and Bailey v. HABC, entered on Dec. 20, 2004.
     “We are pleased with the significant progress made by the Housing Authority of Baltimore City to implement the terms of the original decree,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta, head of the Civil Rights Division. “We look forward to working with the Housing Authority to create new accessible housing opportunities for persons with disabilities and enhancing their quality of life.”
     The original consent decree mandates that HABC create 756 units to comply with federal accessibility standards. As of Aug. 31, 2015, HABC had developed all but 54 of such units. Under the supplemental decree, these remaining units will be completed by Dec. 31, 2016. HABC’s plan requires two and three bedroom single family homes that are fully accessible to families with a household member who has physical disabilities.

HUD charges Texas landlords with discrimination for imposing overly restrictive rules on families with children

October 23, 2015
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced today that it has charged Blackacre, L.L.C. and Alishia Ritchkey, the former owner and manager of Pebble Beach Apartments, a 61-unit complex in Universal City, Texas, with violating the Fair Housing Act by imposing overly restrictive rules on children under 16 who lived there.HUD also charged Implicity Management Company, the current management company, and Pebble Beach Apartments L.L.C, the current owner of the complex, with discriminating based on familial status.
     Read HUD’s charge. The Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in the sale, rental, and financing of dwellings, based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status, and disability. This includes setting rules that discriminate against families with children.
     “Instituting rules that limit the activities of daily life for families with children violates the Fair Housing Act,” said Gustavo Velasquez, HUD Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity. “The Fair Housing Act protects the rights of families to enjoy their homes free from unreasonable restrictions on their children.”
     Specifically, HUD’s charge alleges that Pebble Beach’srules discriminated against families by prohibiting children under the age of 16 from being in their home without an adult, using the laundry facilities without an adult present, using the pool without an adult present, or using their scooters or bikes on the street and parking lots without an adult. HUD’s charge further alleges that residents were told that parking lots were not to be used as playgrounds and that if children were left playing “in the street” with bikes, scooters, etc. they would be given a 24-hour notice to vacate.

HUD charges Wisconsin landlords with Fair Housing violation

October 14, 2015
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development announced on Oct. 14 that it is charging the owner and managers of an apartment complex in Cross Plains with violating the Fair Housing Act for failing to take action to stop several tenants from harassing a neighbor, who has cerebral palsy, and her daughter with Down’s syndrome.
     The Fair Housing Act makes it unlawful for a housing manager or owner to fail to fulfill a duty to correct and end the harassment of one tenant by another, when that harassment is based on race, color, religion, sex, familial status, national origin or, as was the case here, disability.
     The Fair Housing Act also makes it unlawful to interfere with any person’s right to enjoy their home.
     “A person’s home should be where they feel the greatest level of comfort — not anguish and fear because of being subjected to humiliating and degrading comments,” said Gustavo Velasquez, HUD assistant secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity. “Harassing a person because of their disability is not only disturbing, it is illegal.”

Warner, Kaine announce nearly $7million in HUD funding to increase access to fair housing

October 01, 2015
U.S. Senators Mark Warner and Tim Kaine announced that seven Virginia localities and organizations will receive nearly $7 million in grants from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
     The funding will help local governments fight housing discrimination, improve economic conditions and increase access to affordable housing. “These funds will strengthen Virginia communities and improve the quality of life for residents,” said Warner.
     “These are investments in our local neighborhoods that will expand economic opportunity now and in the future.” “Throughout my years in public service and as a lawyer fighting housing discrimination, I’ve seen the tremendous benefits equal access to housing and home ownership can have in our communities,” said Kaine.
     “By ensuring the supply of affordable housing, helping build strong, prosperous communities and educating citizens on their rights?, these grants will make a positive impact on the lives of families in Virginia.”

HUD hands out $38 million to fight housing discrimination

October 01, 2015
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development announced this week that it is awarding $38 million total to more than 100 groups to be used for fighting housing discrimination.
     The money is being awarded as part of HUD’s Fair Housing Initiatives Program.
     According to HUD, the funding provided through the competitive grants will help to support a range of fair housing enforcement efforts, including fair housing testing, as well as activities that help educate the public, housing providers and local governments about their rights and responsibilities under the Fair Housing Act.
     “Combating housing discrimination requires the aggressive enforcement of the nation’s fair housing laws, but HUD can’t do it alone,” said HUD’s Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity Gustavo Velasquez. “The funding we are announcing today will enable organizations committed to justice and equality to support our efforts to ensure that everyone has equal access to available housing opportunities.”

DOJ reaches settlement with Eagle Bank and Trust Company to resolve allegations of lending discrimination in St. Louis

September 29, 2015
The Justice Department filed a consent order today to resolve allegations that Eagle Bank and Trust Company (Eagle Bank) engaged in a pattern or practice of “redlining” predominantly African-American neighborhoods in and around St. Louis. “Redlining” is the discriminatory practice by banks or other financial institutions to deny or avoid providing credit services to a consumer because of the racial demographics of the neighborhood in which the consumer lives. This is the second redlining settlement that the department has announced in the past week.
     As a result of the settlement, Eagle Bank will open two new locations to serve the residents of African American neighborhoods in northern St. Louis. The bank will also invest at least $975,000 to provide banking and borrowing opportunities to residents and businesses in those areas. The settlement, which is subject to court approval, was filed in conjunction with the department’s complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri.
     The complaint alleges violations of the Fair Housing Act and the Equal Credit Opportunity Act (ECOA), which prohibit financial institutions from discriminating on the basis of race and color in their mortgage lending practices.

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