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Housing Discrimination and housing segregation take away sense of safety in one’s own home

April 20, 2015
This year commemorates the 47th anniversary of the U.S. Fair Housing Act as well as the Kentucky Fair Housing law, both of which were passed in 1968. Because of these laws, housing discrimination is illegal.
     Housing discrimination is uniquely damaging in that it takes away a person’s sense of safety in his or her own home. It is important that all of us as responsible members of society remain vigilant in addressing both the blatant and subtle forms of housing discrimination that tear at the national fabric.
     Because of the Fair Housing Act and Kentucky’s Fair Housing Law, it is unlawful to discriminate against any person who seeks to rent or own housing, based on the person’s color, disability, familial status (whether one lives with children under 18 years of age of whether a woman living in the household is pregnant), national origin, race, religion or sex. Federal and Kentucky fair housing laws provide equal opportunity to all people when buying, selling, renting, financing or insuring housing. People have the right to buy or rent where they choose a home, condominium, apartment, trailer or lot. Everyone must obey the law, including property owners, property managers, real estate brokers, sales agents, operators, builders and developers, advertisers and advertising media, mortgage lenders, insurers, and banks or other financial institutions.

Westchester to pursue HUD for held-back grants

March 17, 2015
Westchester County wants a court order to prevent three years’ worth of federal grants tagged for local municipalities from being spent elsewhere until a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development is decided.
     The county is challenging HUD’s authority to withhold or deny a number of annual grants due to what the department views as noncompliance with the terms of a 2009 affordable housing settlement. An appeals court ruled last month that the county could pursue legal action challenging HUD’s authority and seek $750,000 left from $7.4 million in 2011 grants that were largely redistributed outside the county by HUD.
     County lawmakers voted Monday to also seek what is left from grants withheld by HUD between 2012 and 2014 and to prevent the department from giving any of the money to other programs before the case is ruled upon.

LGBT Americans still face wide-spread inequality

December 09, 2014
Despite growing support for equality, the stakes are high for the estimated almost nine million lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Americans whose daily lives are limited by a lack of state and federal protections. According to a new publication released today, LGBT Americans live in a two-tier system where they must navigate vastly differing state laws coupled with an ongoing lack of protections under federal law. For example, same-sex couples can now marry in 35 states, but a lack of widespread nondiscrimination protections means wearing a wedding ring to work can result in a gay worker being legally fired in 29 states. In most states, LGBT people can also still be refused service and denied housing, and there are no laws protecting LGBT students against bullying in schools.
     Understanding Issues Facing LGBT Americans is a primer introducing the major areas in which LGBT Americans face legal barriers to fully participating in life and provides a summary of what advocates are doing to work for change. The resource was developed by the Movement Advancement Project (MAP), the Center for American Progress (CAP), GLAAD, and the Human Rights Campaign (HRC). The report is available at www.lgbtmap.org/understanding-issues-facing-lgbt-americans.

HUD charges, reaches settlements with housing providers in Alabama, California, Michigan and New Hampshire

November 03, 2014
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced today that it has charged housing providers operating in California and New Hampshire, and reached settlement agreements with providers in Alabama and Michigan amid allegations that they discriminated against residents with disabilities.
     The Fair Housing Act makes it unlawful to discriminate in the sale, rental, and financing of dwellings, and in other housing-related transactions, based on disability. This includes discriminating against any person in the terms, conditions, or privileges of sale or rental of a home, or in services or facilities related to the housing, because of a disability.
     Among the acts prohibited is refusing to make reasonable accommodations in rules, policies, practices, or services. “We continue to see more cases of discrimination against persons with disabilities than any other type,” said Gustavo Velasquez, HUD’s Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity. “It is unacceptable that individuals with disabilities have to fight for the opportunity to live where they want, or to have reasonable accommodations extended to them so they can enjoy their dwelling.
     The cases we’re announcing today reflect our ongoing commitment to leveling the playing field for all Americans when it comes to housing.”

HUD order resolves allegations that American Bank discriminated against loan applicant with disabilities

November 03, 2014
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced today that it has entered into an Initial Decision and Consent Order with American Bank, resolving HUD’s charge that the Rockville, Maryland-based lender discriminated against applicants with disabilities when it allegedly required applicants to provide documentation regarding their disabilities and attempted to obtain information about the nature and extent of those disabilities.
     The Fair Housing Act makes it illegal to discriminate in the terms and conditions of a loan to an individual based on a disability, including imposing different application or qualification criteria.
     The Fair Housing Act also makes it illegal to inquire about the nature or severity of a disability except in limited circumstances. “Holding homebuyers with disabilities to a higher standard is against the law,” said Gustavo Velasquez, HUD Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity. “Banks may verify in-come, but they cannot single out homebuyers with disabilities and delay or deny their financing, if they are otherwise eligible.”

HUD settles claims alleging owner of Dekalb apartment complex discriminated against persons with disabilities

November 03, 2014
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced today that it has entered into a Voluntary Compliance Agreement (VCA) with University Village, the owner and operator of a 500-unit HUD-subsidized apartment complex in DeKalb, Illinois.
     As part of the agreement, University Village has agreed to pay $255,000 to settle allegations that it violated fair housing laws when it failed to meet the needs of persons with disabilities and retaliated against a resident with disabilities for requesting a reasonable accommodation. The VCA is the result of complaints that were filed by HOPE Fair Housing Center, the RAMP Center for Independent Living and two residents with disabilities, which alleged that University Village made housing unavailable when it assigned a mobility impaired resident to a third-floor unit in a building with no elevator, and threatened her with eviction for having her adult daughter, who was serving as her caregiver, in the unit, even though she had documentation verifying her disability and need for the accommodation.
     University Village receives federal financial assistance from HUD in the form of project-based vouchers. The Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in the sale or rental of a dwelling because of disability, including refusing to make reasonable accommodations in policies or practices when a person with a disability requires such an accommodation. In addition, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 requires that programs or activities receiving federal financial assistance be readily accessible to persons with disabilities and that they be granted the reasonable accommodations they need, including being allowed to have a live-in caregiver in a unit when it is necessary.

It's time to end Exclusionary Lending

October 22, 2014
More than 40 years ago, United States courts began striking down what became known as exclusionary zoning — municipal zoning ordinances that required large lots for homes, thereby driving up the cost of housing and excluding low- and moderate-income families and people of color from residing in those communities.
     Today, mortgage lenders have put in place excessively restrictive approval standards that have all but shut the doors to conventional mortgage lending to African-Americans and Latinos. This could be termed exclusionary lending, and it's time for regulators to define and prohibit it.
     Five years into the economic recovery, lending to African-Americans and Latinos is at the lowest levels in nearly 15 years. Meanwhile, the population of African-Americans and Latinos in the U.S. has grown by nearly 50% during that time, according to our analysis of data from the U.S. Census Bureau.

West Virginia and Tennessee landlords charged with sexual harassment

October 08, 2014
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development announced today that it has charged housing providers in West Virginia and Tennessee with sexually harassing female tenants and threatening them with homelessness if they did not comply.
     The Fair Housing Act makes it unlawful for a housing manager or owner to sexually harass a tenant. This includes conditioning housing on the tenant’s acquiescence to sexual demands.
     "Our charges allege that these housing managers used their authority to exploit women whose families were one step away from homelessness" said Gustavo Velasquez, HUD Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity, "These violent acts are compounded because they took place at home, leaving these mothers with no safe place to go. I will use all the power of my office to address these violations and protect women from harassment."
     In the West Virginia case, HUD charged a management company and three former employees that managed an apartment complex in Cross Lanes with allegedly sexually harassing at least five women who lived there. The property receives Low-Income Housing Tax Credits and accepts HUD Housing Choice Vouchers (Section 8.)

HUD takes action in California and Kansas cases where hostile apartment rules against children including no playing outside

October 08, 2014
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced today that it has reached a discrimination settlement agreement with a Napa Valley apartment owner and charged the owners of a Lenexa, Kansas, apartment complex with discrimination as a result of management at the two sites allegedly putting overly restrictive rules into place to control the free movement of children. Allegations include management placing restrictions on children playing outside, and in one case forcing children to clean the manager’s office toilet when the youths were found outside unaccompanied by an adult.
     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.
     “Placing special rules on families with children unfairly singles them out and creates a hostile living environment that is authoritarian and unequal,” said Gustavo Velasquez, HUD Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity. “The Fair Housing Act protects the rights of families with children to enjoy their homes the same way as other households.”

HUD reaches settlement with Midland States Bancorp resolving allegations of redlining by the bank

October 02, 2014
The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced today that it has negotiated a Conciliation Agreement with Illinois-based Midland States Bancorp, resolving allegations that the bank avoided doing business in predominantly African American and Hispanic neighborhoods in St. Louis, Missouri and northern Illinois.
     The Fair Housing Act makes it unlawful to deny or discriminate in the terms and conditions of a mortgage or loan modification based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status, or disability.
     “Today’s settlement demonstrates HUD’s ongoing commitment to addressing lending discrimination, no matter what form it takes,” said Gustavo Velasquez, HUD Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity. “Everyone, regardless of their race or national origin, should have equal access to banking services and HUD will continue to take appropriate action to end discriminatory practices.”

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