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HUD to investigate fair housing complaint in Chappaqua against New Castle and Westchester

March 06, 2014
The US Department of Housing and Urban Development today notified the town of New Castle and Westchester County that it would investigate a complaint, made under the federal Fair Housing Law, which charged that the town and the county were discriminating against racial minorities by putting up roadblocks to the 28-unit affordable housing project proposed for downtown Chappaqua.
     Also named in the action were New Castle Building Inspector William Maskiell, who has declined to issue building permits for the project. He maintained the project required variances under the state Fire Code.
     The complaint is attached below.
     New Castle Supervisor Robert Greenstein was elected in November in a campaign in which his opposition was one of his central issues.

DOJ resolves lawsuit alleging disability-based discrimination at nine multifamily housing complexes

February 24, 2014
February 24, 2014. The Justice Department announced today that a federal district court judge in Jackson, Miss., approved a settlement of the department’s lawsuit against the original owners and developers of nine multifamily housing complexes located in Mississippi, Louisiana and Tennessee.
     The complexes contain more than 800 ground-floor units that are required by the Fair Housing Act (FHA) to contain accessible features, and eight of the complexes contain leasing offices that are required by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) to contain accessible features. The lawsuit alleged that the defendants failed to include important accessible features at these properties.
     Under the settlement, defendants The Bryan Company, Bryan Construction Company Inc., Steve Bryan, Mid-South Houston Partners, Mid-South Development LLC aka MSD LLC, The Vineyards Apartments LLC, Windsor Lake Apartment LP and Cypress Lake Development LLC must make extensive retrofits to meet FHA requirements. These include reducing door threshold heights, replacing excessively sloped portions of sidewalks, installing new and properly sloped curb ramps, installing cane detection at stairwells, installing accessible door hardware and ensuring that there are a sufficient number of accessible parking spaces at the properties.

HUD employee earns prestigious honor from Trumpet Award Foundation for advancing civil rights

February 13, 2014
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development announced today that DeAndra J. Cullen, Acting Director of the Fair Housing Division of Education and Outreach, has received the Atlanta-based Trumpet Award Foundation’s “High Heels Award” for her work in promoting civil rights and higher education. DeAndra J. Cullen, received the prestigious award at the Foundation’s recent awards banquet in Atlanta. The annual Trumpet Awards acknowledge the accomplishments of men and women who enhance the quality of life in America’s communities, particularly those working to advance the principles of justice and equality.
     In addition, Trumpet Awards celebrate and honor African Americans who have distinguished themselves in their chosen fields and those who support the African American experience through their work in law, medicine, business, politics, the arts, civil rights, sports, entrepreneurship and entertainment.
     Cullen, an attorney in HUD’s Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity, is responsible for developing strategies and creating educational materials that enhance the public’s knowledge of the Fair Housing Act, the landmark law that prohibits housing discrimination based on a person’s race, color, national origin, religion, sex, family status, and disability. In addition to working at HUD, Cullen is an adjunct professor at Bowie State University’s School of Business in Bowie, MD, where she teaches graduate and undergraduate courses in labor relations and conflict management. She lives with her husband and three children in Bowie. Cullen has a J.D. from Indiana University and a B.S. from North Carolina A&T State University.

DOJ files fair housing lawsuit against owners and managers of Illinois mobile home park

February 05, 2014
The Justice Department filed a lawsuit today against the owner and those responsible for the management of a 126-space mobile home park in Effingham, Ill ., for violating the Fair Housing Act (FHA) by discriminating against African-Americans and families with children.
     “People should not be denied the housing of their choice because of their race or because they have children,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Jocelyn Samuels for the Civil Rights Division. “The Justice Department will continue its vigorous enforcement of the Fair Housing Act, which outlaws such discrimination.
     “America’s strength is in its diversity,” said United States Attorney Stephen R. Wigginton for the Southern District of Illinois. “The Southern District of Illinois recognizes that our nation, our district and our communities depend upon each and every person being afforded the basic rights that this country gives them. As such, my office is proud to defend everyone’s right to live where they want, free from discrimination.”
     The lawsuit, filed in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Illinois, charges that owner Lorraine Wallschlaeger, manager Barbara Crubaugh and David Crubaugh, another employee with management responsibilities, engaged in a pattern or practice of violating the FHA by imposing requirements on African-Americans interested in living at Four Seasons Estates Mobile Home Park that they did not impose on white prospective tenants, such as completing a written application and having their mobile homes inspected before being accepted into the park. The suit also charges that the defendants threatened to evict a white resident and his niece from the park if her African-American boyfriend did not leave, and refused to register the African-American boyfriend as a resident.

Bronx landlord face charges of discrimintation against tenants with service dogs

December 31, 2013
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced today that it has charged Dardania Properties, LLC, in New York, NY, and its owner Hamid Nezaj with violating the Fair Housing Act by denying the requests of two disabled residents of a Bronx apartment building to keep a medically prescribed service and emotional support animal. HUD’s charge alleges that the owners denied multiple requests by the residents and threatened to evict them if they did not remove the animal.
     The Fair Housing Act requires housing providers to make reasonable accommodations in their rules, policies, practices, and services when needed to provide persons with disabilities an equal opportunity to use or enjoy a dwelling. This includes waiving “no-pets” policies for persons with disabilities.
     “Assistance animals help many people with disabilities perform everyday activities that others may take for granted,” said Bryan Greene, HUD’s Acting Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity. “The Fair Housing Act requires housing providers to make reasonable accommodations and HUD will ensure that they meet that obligation.”

DOJ files fair housing lawsuit against owner and manager of rental housing in New Hampshire for discrimination against families with children

December 17, 2013
The Justice Department today filed a lawsuit against the owner and manager of rental apartments in Jaffrey, N.H., for violating the Fair Housing Act by discriminating against families with children.
     The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Hampshire, alleges that Bruce R. Edwards, as Trustee of the Bruce R. Edwards Revocable Trust of 2004 and in his personal capacity, engaged in a pattern or practice of violating the Fair Housing Act or denied rights protected by the Act. According to the complaint, the defendant allegedly established and implemented a discriminatory “no children” policy for prospective tenants in a boarding house that he owned and managed. The suit also alleges that the defendant violated the Fair Housing Act by enforcing the “no children” provision of the lease against a tenant and requiring the tenant to immediately find other housing arrangements for his daughter, who visited the boarding house on weekends.
     “The Fair Housing Act protects tenants with children from facing unfair terms and conditions of rental that do not apply to tenants without children,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Jocelyn Samuels for the Civil Rights Division. “The Justice Department will continue its vigorous enforcement of fair housing laws that ensure that tenants can secure rental housing for their families without fear of discrimination.

DOJ files lawsuit alleging disability-based discrimination at Hartville, Ohio, condo complex

December 04, 2013
The Justice Department filed a lawsuit late yesterday against the owners, builders and designers of a 54-unit condominium complex in Hartville, Ohio, for violations of the Fair Housing Act (FHA). The lawsuit alleges that the defendants violated the law when they designed and constructed the complex with barriers that make it inaccessible to persons with disabilities.
     “Since 1991, the Fair Housing Act has required that when new multifamily housing is built, it be accessible to persons with disabilities,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Jocelyn Samuels for the department’s Civil Rights Division. “When condominium complexes are built with steps and other barriers, those with disabilities are denied that equal housing opportunity.”
     “We will continue to work to make sure people with disabilities are free to live where they choose, as is their legal right,” said U.S. Attorney Steven M. Dettelbach for the Northern District of Ohio.
     The suit, filed in U.S. District Court in Cleveland alleges that various barriers at the Windham Bridge property in Hartville deny persons with disabilities equal access to 52 condominiums and the associated public and common-use areas at the property that are covered by the FHA. Such barriers include inaccessible building entrances; no accessible parking spaces; insufficient accessible routes into and through the units; and kitchens and bathrooms that are inaccessible to persons in wheelchairs.

Housing group taps dubious data, HUD ties to demand millions from banks

December 02, 2013
Editor's note: The following article in a banking industry publication contains numerous conclusions based on a faulty understanding of enforcement of the Fair Housing Act. Our inclusion of it here is a public service and is not meant to imply endorsement.
     The National Fair Housing Alliance held a pair of teleconferences over the past two months during which its president, Shanna Smith, accused two of the nation's biggest banks of a deplorable corporate crime: racial discrimination.
     Bank of America (BAC) and U.S. Bancorp (USB) did a terrible job of maintaining homes they'd foreclosed on in predominately black and Hispanic neighborhoods, Smith declared, even as they were fastidious about upkeep in mostly white areas. The claims were a repeat of those the Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit has made during more than a half-dozen other teleconferences over the last year.

HUD charges New York housing provider with discrimination against residents with disabilities who need a support animal

November 18, 2013
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)announced today that it is charging the East River Housing Corporation in New York, NY,with violating the Fair Housing Act by denying a request from a tenant with disabilities to reside in her apartment with a medically-prescribed support animal. HUD’s charge alleges that East River employees ignored the woman’s many requests to keep her emotional support dog in her apartment and moved to evict her when she refused to get rid of the dog.
     The Fair Housing Act requires housing providers to make reasonable accommodations in their rules, policies, practices, or services when needed to provide persons with disabilities an equal opportunity to use or enjoy a dwelling. This includes waiving pet limitation policies for persons who need emotional support animals.
     “Support animals provide the comfort and stability that many people with disabilities need,” said Bryan Greene, HUD’s Acting Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity. “The Fair Housing Act requires housing providers to grant reasonable accommodations to persons with disabilities and HUD will continue to take action when they fail to comply with that obligation.”

Indirect subsidiary of Deutsche Bank agrees to pay over $12M to settle lending discrimination case

November 06, 2013
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced today that MortgageIT, Inc., an indirect subsidiary of Deutsche Bank, has agreed to pay $12.1 million under a Conciliation Agreement with HUD resolving allegations that the residential lender discriminated against African American and Hispanic borrowers seeking mortgage loans. HUD had alleged that the lender’s practices contributed to minority borrowers being charged higher Annual Percentage Rates (APRs) and fees than similarly-situated white borrowers, and denied minority applicants loans more often than similarly-situated white applicants.
     The Fair Housing Act prohibits housing discrimination in mortgage lending and real estate-related transactions based on a person’s race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status and disability.
     “It’s creditworthiness and ability to pay that matter when you apply for a loan, not your race or where you come from,” said Bryan Greene, HUD’s Acting Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity. “This settlement reaffirms HUD’s commitment to ensuring that minorities have equal access to mortgage loan products and that lending institutions meet their obligations under the Fair Housing Act.”

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