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HUD charges Salt Lake City property owners with discrimination against residents with disabilities

June 12, 2015
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced today that it has charged the owners of a three-story Salt Lake City, Utah, apartment building with violating the Fair Housing Act by making housing unavailable to prospective residents with disabilities. Read HUD’s charge.
     “For more than 25 years, persons with disabilities have had the right to keep assistance animals that help them perform everyday activities,” said Gustavo Velasquez, HUD Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity. “HUD will continue to work with our fair housing partners to ensure that owners and landlords meet their obligation to provide reasonable accommodations when they are needed.” The case came to HUD’s attention when the Disability Law Center (DLC), a HUD Fair Housing Initiatives Program agency in Salt Lake City, filed a complaint after conducting fair housing tests. When a tester, posing as a prospective tenant whose husband uses an assistance animal, inquired about a unit that had been advertised on Craigslist, Sergey Krasovskiy allegedly refused to negotiate with her about the unit.
     Krasovskiy told the tester that he and his business partner “usually don’t accept animals.” The tester offered to provide a letter from her husband’s doctor verifying the need for the service animal.

HUD announces agreement with North Miami Beach condo association settling claims of discrimination against minorities

June 04, 2015
June 4, 2015 – (RealEstateRama) — The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development announced today an agreement with a North Miami Beach condominium association settling allegations its board president harassed and made discriminatory remarks about Black and Hispanic residents and attempted to evict them. Read HUD’s Conciliation Agreement with Aqua Vista Townhomes Condominium Association.
     “You can’t deny people housing because of what they look like or where they come from,” said Gustavo Velasquez, HUD’s Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity. “We have zero tolerance for those who discriminate against people because of their race or national origin.”
     The settlement is the result of a complaint filed by HUD alleging the president of the condominium association’s board of directors, Daniella Adams, engaged in a number of discriminatory actions against Black and Hispanic residents participating in the Housing Choice Voucher (Section 8)

Supreme Court soon will rule on 13 important cases

May 28, 2015
he Supreme Court is heading into the final month of its annual term.
     In a potentially historic ruling, the court will decide whether same-sex couples have a right to marry nationwide, culminating a two-decade legal and political fight for marriage equality.
     Another much-anticipated decision will be whether the Obama administration may continue to subsidize health insurance for low- and middle-income people who buy coverage in the 36 states that failed to establish an official insurance exchange of their own and instead use a federally run version.
     If the court rules against the Obama administration, about 8.6 million people could lose their subsidies under the Affordable Care Act.
     Between now and late June, the court will hand down more than two dozen decisions on matters such as politics, civil rights, free speech and air pollution. Several of these cases have been pending for months, suggesting the justices have been sharply split.

HUD & Associated Bank reach historic $200 million settlement of 'REDLINING' claim

May 26, 2015
he U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) today announced an agreement with Associated Bank, N.A. (Associated) to resolve a disparate treatment redlining case, one of the largest redlining complaints brought by the federal government against a mortgage lender. At approximately $200 million, it is the largest settlement of this kind HUD has ever reached.
     The settlement stems from a HUD Secretary-initiated complaint alleging that from 2008-2010, the Wisconsin-based bank engaged in discriminatory lending practices regarding the denial of mortgage loans to African-American and Hispanic applicants and the provision of loan services in neighborhoods with significant African-American or Hispanic populations. Read the agreement here.
     "This settlement sends a strong message that HUD does not tolerate practices that unfairly restrict an equal and open housing market," said HUD Secretary Julián Castro. "Discriminatory lending practices have too often cut off too many credit-worthy families from the opportunities they need to thrive. This agreement will ensure that more Americans can fulfill their hopes and aspirations."

HUD and Virginia landlord settle allegations of discrimination against tenants with disabilities

May 26, 2015
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced today an agreement with Roanoke, Virginia-based Retirement Unlimited, Inc. resolving allegations of discrimination against residents with disabilities in two of the company’s rental properties. The settlement requires Retirement Unlimited to pay $169,500 in damages. Read HUD’s agreement with Retirement Unlimited.
     The Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination against persons with disabilities. This includes requiring persons with disabilities to pay additional security deposits or to buy liability insurance because they use motorized wheelchairs.
     The case came to HUD’s attention when two residents and Housing Opportunities Made Equal (HOME), a non-profit fair housing organization based in Richmond, Virginia, filed complaints alleging that Retirement Unlimited required residents who use motorized wheelchairs or scooters to pay a $1,500 security deposit, acquire a minimum of $100,000 in liability insurance, and sign an agreement stating that approval of the motorized wheelchairs could be withdrawn if payments to maintain the required insurance policies were not made.

Wall Street Could Win Big If SCOTUS Guts Fair Housing Act

May 22, 2015
If the state of Texas prevails in a civil rights case about to be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court, landlords and developers will have an easier time defending themselves in housing discrimination lawsuits.
     But the biggest beneficiary of a win for Texas could well be Wall Street.
     The case alleges that the way Texas allocates low-income housing credits violates the 1968 Fair Housing Act, an issue with little direct connection to banking. But trade groups representing banks and other financial services companies hope that the high court will set a legal precedent in its ruling that could also be used to defend against lending discrimination lawsuits.

Fannie Mae accused of racial discrimination in maintenance of REOs

May 14, 2015
In a complaint filed this week with federal housing officials, Fannie Mae was accused of showing a pattern of racial discrimination by allowing its stock of foreclosed properties to deteriorate in non-white neighborhoods, while doing a better job of maintaining and marketing properties in largely white areas.
     The National Fair Housing Alliance (NFHA), a consortium of more than 200 private nonprofit housing organizations, filed the complaint Wednesday on behalf of itself and 19 other fair-housing groups with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
     NFHA said Fannie violated the Fair Housing Act through unequal treatment. Rundown real-estate owned (REOs) properties in non-white neighborhoods are contributing to blight, health and safety hazards and placing a burden on neighbors and the local governments, the complaint says.

HUD announces fair housing charge and settlement with landlords in Nevada and Hawaii

May 11, 2015
WASHINGTON, D.C. – May 11, 2015 – (RealEstateRama) — As the nation prepares to celebrate Mother’s Day on Sunday, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) today announced two fair housing actions involving allegations of housing discrimination involving families with children.
     In Carson City, Nevada, HUD charged the owners of a rental property for allegedly refusing to rent a home to parents because they have children. In the second action, HUD reached a settlement agreement with the owners of an apartment complex in Kihei, Hawaii to resolve allegations they barred families from living in certain buildings designated as “adult friendly.”
     The Fair Housing Act makes it unlawful to deny housing because a family has children under the age of 18 and to make statements that discriminate against families with children. Similarly, “adult-only” housing violates the Fair Housing Act unless it qualifies as housing for older persons.

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

May 05, 2015
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 Santa Fe, NEW MEXICO, Property owners with discrimination against tenant with diabilities

May 04, 2015
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced today that it is charging a Santa Fe, New Mexico landlord with housing discrimination for refusing to allow a renter with disabilities to keep her emotional support animal and to have her daughter reside with her. HUD’s charge further alleges that Paula Anderson threatened to evict the woman if she did not get rid of her support animal and have her daughter move out. The woman’s daughter provided her with disability-related assistance.
     The Fair Housing Act makes it unlawful to refuse to make reasonable accommodations in policies or practices when a person with a disability requires such accommodations, including refusing to allow a live-in aide and refusing to grant waivers to “no-pet” policies for persons who require assistance or support animals. Additionally, the law makes it unlawful to make housing unavailable to any person because of a disability.
     “Housing providers need to understand that support animals are not pets, they provide persons with disabilities the stability needed to perform life’s everyday activities,” said Gustavo Velasquez, HUD Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity. “The Fair Housing Act requires housing providers to grant reasonable accommodations and HUD is committed to taking action if they fail to meet that obligation.”

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