Washington, DC

HUD and Philadelphia-area borough settle allegations of housing discrimination against victims of domestic violence

October 02, 2014
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced today that is has reached a Conciliation Agreement with Norristown, Pennsylvania, settling allegations that the municipality violated the Fair Housing Act when it enacted ordinances that held landlords responsible for evicting tenants cited for "disorderly behavior," including domestic violence incidents, or risk being fined or losing their rental license.
     Norristown's City Council subsequently repealed the original law but passed a similar ordinance that same day which called for charging landlords mounting fines for tenants that display disruptive behavior.
     The Fair Housing Act makes it unlawful to evict an individual because of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, disability, or familial status. In addition, the Violence Against Women Act provides legal protections for victims of domestic violence, including protections against eviction in certain cases.
     "It's discriminatory to deny housing to a woman for violence committed against her. To face discrimination, on top of domestic violence, only compounds the injustice," said Gustavo Velasquez, HUD's Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity. "The Department will continue to educate municipalities about their responsibility to uphold laws that protect the housing rights of survivors of domestic violence."

Biafora's Incorporated accused of violating federal fair housing, disabilities acts

October 01, 2014
The U.S. Government has sued Biafora's Incorporated, a property management company based in Morgantown, for violating the Federal Fair Housing Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act at rental properties in West Virginia and Pennsylvania.
     Defendants named in the court filing include Metro Property Management, Falconcrest LLC, Five Star Holdings, LLC, Metro Rentals LLC, Metro Rentals II LLC, RDR Properties LLC, RDR Properties II LLC, The Gables LLC, The Woodland LLC, 3BT LLC and CMC Company LLC. The properties are in Morgantown, Fairmont, Bridgeport and Waynesburg, PA,
     Biafora's Incorporated is accused of discriminating against people with disabilities and failing to design and construct multi-family residential properties to be accessible to people with disabilities, said the court filing.

HUD's Castro: New instruction coming on fair housing

September 25, 2014
Housing Secretary Julián Castro said Thursday local and state governments soon will have better guidance on providing fair housing in their communities.
     Castro, who moved into the Cabinet job in July, spoke at the Asian Asian American Advancing Justice conference, a summit of civil and social justice groups advocating for the Asian American and Pacific Islander community.
     He said the fair housing guidance, which should be final in coming months, is part of a recommitment to uphold fair housing, anti-discrimination laws.
     “Local leaders will be able to make better decisions that increase choice for families and connect affordable housing to opportunities like jobs and quality schools,” Castro said of the additional guidance.
     Last year, HUD won favorable decisions in 2,200 cases, bringing relief to more than 9,600 people who had complained of housing discrimination, he said.

U.S. Bank, HUD settle discrimination allegations

September 16, 2014
U.S. Bank has reached a settlement with a housing regulator over allegations the bank discriminated against a Native American couple in denying them a refinance.
     In a complaint filed with HUD, the couple alleged U.S. Bank and its appraiser, Red Sky Risk Services, turned down their refinance application last year, informing them that the bank couldn't make the loan because their property was located on a reservation and could not be appraised.
     Located on the Turtle Mountain Indian Reservation in North Dakota, the property is considered to be held in "fee simple," according to HUD, meaning the couple holds the title without restriction.

Criminalisation of homelessness in U.S. criticised by United Nations

September 02, 2014
A United Nations panel reviewing the U.S. record on racial discrimination has expressed unusually pointed concern over a new pattern of laws it warns is criminalising homelessness.
     U.S. homelessness has increased substantially in the aftermath of the financial downturn, and with a disproportionate impact on minorities. Yet in many places officials have responded by cracking down on activities such as sleeping or even eating in public, while simultaneously defunding social services.
     The new rebuke comes from a panel of experts reviewing the United States progress in implementing its obligations under a treaty known as the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, commonly referred to as CERD or the race convention.
     The Committee is concerned at the high number of homeless persons, who are disproportionately from racial and ethnic minorities, the CERD panel stated in a formal report released on Friday, and at the criminalization of homelessness through laws that prohibit activities such as loitering, camping, begging, and lying in public spaces.
     This was only the second time that the United States record on race relations and discriminatory practices, and particularly the federal government's actions in this regard, have been formally examined against the measuring stick of international law.

Little Rock apartment complex owners accused of latino discrimination

August 25, 2014
The Arkansas Fair Housing Commission has issued a determination that there is reasonable cause to believe that apartment owners in Little Rock subjected Latino applicants to discrimination in violation of the Fair Housing Act. The findings result from an in-depth investigation of a complaint filed by the National Fair Housing Alliance in October of 2013 with the Arkansas Fair Housing Commission (AFHC) against Bailey Properties, et al. for refusing to rent to Latinos and discriminating in the conditions or terms of rental based on national origin.
     Bailey Properties operates as part of BSR Trust, LLC, which owns and operates close to 19,000 apartments throughout the southeastern United States.
     “We were stunned by the consistent pattern of discrimination our investigation uncovered,” said Shanna L. Smith, President and CEO of NFHA. “People in Little Rock deserve fair treatment when looking for housing, regardless of their national origin. This determination by the AFHC confirms the need for justice, and we urge Bailey Properties to come forward and change their practices so this never happens again.”

NFHA links residential segregation to financial discrimination

August 13, 2014
Today, the National Fair Housing Alliance (NFHA) released its 2014 Fair Housing Trends Report, “Expanding Opportunity: Systemic Approaches to Fair Housing”. The report highlights how the federal government and nonprofit organizations have increased systemic fair housing enforcement through broad-based approaches and traditional case-by-case practices. The report also peers into housing discrimination on a regional level, drawing connections between the rate of segregation and the level of reported housing discrimination.
     According to report results, fair housing complaints, amounting to 27,352 in 2013, have remained relatively steady compared to recent years. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development estimates that the number of reported complaints represents less than one percent of the four million instances of housing discrimination that occur each year.

One of the best ways to fight inequality in cities: zoning

August 13, 2014
As affordable housing becomes an ever more prominent progressive cause – thanks to economic segregation, a broad swell in housing prices and rising rents in the neighborhoods where progressive media people hang out – some rather odd fault lines are forming.
     Some writers and activists have decided that a policy agenda associated with race equality activists since the 1960s is, in fact, the province of – to quote a Gawker piece from July – “tech bloggers, Redditors, Hacker News trolls, and politically-connected venture capitalists.”
     The policy in question is easing the laws that make it illegal to build more housing, otherwise known as zoning. Opponents see this as an easy way for developers to build yuppie condos and cafes with $4 toast.

AFC among HUD HIV/AIDS housing grants

April 28, 2014
Today, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development announced $29 million in grants to assist more than 1,200 extremely low-income persons and families living with HIV/AIDS annually. This funding will provide these households with a stable living environment, which is essential to accessing healthcare and HIV related services. In addition to housing assistance, these local programs will provide access to the needed supportive services such as life skills, job readiness services and employment training. The funding announced today is offered through HUD's Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS Program ( HOPWA ) and will renew HUD's support of 26 local programs in 18 states and the U.S. Virgin Islands ( see attached chart and individual project descriptions below ).
     "These grants will give our local partners a vital resource to keep low-income individuals and families living with HIV/AIDS healthy," said Secretary Shaun Donovan. "Having a place to call home can make all the difference to someone who might otherwise be homeless or on the brink of homelessness."
     The HOPWA program is both a formula entitlement program and a competitive grant program. Ninety percent of HOPWA funds are distributed by formula to cities and states based on the number of AIDS cases reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. HUD's formula grants are managed by 137 local and state jurisdictions, which coordinate AIDS housing efforts with other HUD and community resources. Overall, these resources assist over 60,000 households annually to provide stable housing and reduced risks of homelessness for those living with HIV and other challenges. Ten percent of HOPWA funds are set aside to fund competitively awarded grants.

HUD and city of Dubuque, Iowa settle allegations of discrimination against African Americans

April 15, 2014
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced today an agreement with the city of Dubuque, Iowa, settling allegations that the City discriminated against African Americans in the administration of its Housing Choice Voucher Program.
     Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, and national origin in programs and activities receiving federal financial assistance.
     The agreement announced today is the result of a review HUD conducted in June 2011, which found that Dubuque imposed policies that discriminated against housing choice voucher applicants based on their race. Specifically, the review found that, in response to racial tensions and concerns about crime, the City established a residency preference point system that effectively imposed a residency requirement, putting those from predominantly African American areas at a disadvantage.
     “HUD makes certain that people from all communities are given equal and meaningful access to taxpayer-funded programs,” said Bryan Greene, HUD Acting Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity. “HUD will continue to work with state and municipal governments to ensure that no one is denied housing choice or housing assistance because of his or her race.”


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