Washington, DC

HUD announces settlement with Las Vegas HOA resolving claim of discrimination based on disability

October 31, 2013
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced today that a Las Vegas homeowners association, its management company, and the owner of a rental property will pay $65,000 under a Conciliation Agreement resolving allegations that they violated the Fair Housing Act when they refused to grant a family’s request to park in the driveway of its home an ambulance that the family needed to transport its son, who has a disability, to and from medical appointments.
     The Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination based on disability and requires housing providers, including homeowners associations, 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.
     “Homeowners associations must grant reasonable accommodations that enable residents to meet the needs of family members with disabilities,” said Bryan Greene, HUD’s Acting Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity. “Homeowners associations have the same responsibility as housing providers to follow fair housing laws.”

DOJ files sexual harassment lawsuit in Michigan against owners and property manager of Alger Meadow apartments

October 12, 2013
The Justice Department announced it has filed a lawsuit today in the federal district court for the Western District of Michigan against the owners and manager of Alger Meadow Apartments in Grand Rapids, Mich ., alleging that the manager has sexually harassed tenants in violation of the Fair Housing Act.
     The lawsuit alleges that Dale VanderVennen, manager at Alger Meadow Apartments, has sexually harassed female residents at the complex. The complaint alleges that such harassment has included unwelcome sexual advances, touching female residents without their consent, entering the apartments of female residents without permission and notice, granting and denying tangible housing benefits based on sex; and taking adverse actions against female tenants when they refused his sexual advances.
     "No person should be subject to sexual harassment in their own home, especially when that harassment comes from someone who holds the key to the front door," said Jocelyn Samuels, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division.

Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing

October 09, 2013
In July 2013, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) issued a draft rule called Affirmatively Further Fair Housing (AFFH), which was designed to clarify the Fair Housing Act’s 1968 mandate to address segregated housing issues and promote diverse, inclusive communities. The rule is specifically geared towards entities that receive HUD funding and helping them develop fair housing plans. Manna, Inc. submitted the below comment on the draft rule (you can also find Manna’s comment on HUD’s website)
     Manna, Inc. has been an DC-based nonprofit affordable homeownership developer, educator and mortgage/downpayment assistance lender for over 30 years; we also develop other types of affordable housing. Our over 1,000 first-time, lower income buyers have a less than 2% foreclosure rate. In addition, Manna, Inc. is also a member of the National Community Reinvestment Coalition and NeighborWorks America. Manna, Inc. commends HUD for its efforts to carry out the goals of the Fair Housing Act. As the demographics of the United States continue to shift, the need to eliminate barriers to housing choice and opportunity in our communities is critical. The proposed rule to strengthen the affirmatively furthering fair housing mandate is an important step toward ensuring that barriers to fair housing are eliminated.

Campaign helps minorities recognize housing discrimination

October 08, 2013
The U.S. Department of Justice has garnered significant achievements in recent years in its effort to end housing discrimination across the country. Many cases have been won on behalf of individuals who were denied housing for reasons that were proven to be discriminatory. Yet, the department, along with HUD, have found the biggest problem is educating the public about housing discrimination and encouraging individuals to file a complaint even if they believe, but are not sure, they have been discriminated against.
     Discrimination based on race was the original target of the Fair Housing Act passed by Congress on April 11, 1968, just days immediately following the death of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Today, the battle continues, as housing is being denied to families with children and to the disabled, as well as several other classes of individuals that are protected by the law.
     In June, the Justice Department determined that a public education campaign was needed to bring greater attention to the issues plaguing individuals hoping to own or rent a home. Grants to groups, including the National Association for Latino Community Asset Builders, in D.C., were awarded to launch a national media campaign to inform communities about discriminatory housing practices.

Ruston targeted in fair housing lawsuit

October 05, 2013
Federal justice officials filed a discrimination suit this week alleging that housing officials in Ruston steered black tenants to certain complexes.
     Justice Department officials say the practice, which has been going on since at least 2007, violates the Fair Housing Act.
     The practice by the Housing Authority of Ruston “has reinforced or perpetuated a racially segregated housing system and has exacerbated racial segregation,” Justice officials said in its complaint.
     Fair housing advocates welcomed the lawsuit.

NCRC to Open South Carolina Fair Housing Center

September 27, 2013
The National Community Reinvestment Coalition (NCRC) is pleased to announce the opening of the South Carolina Fair Housing Center in Columbia, South Carolina on September 30, 2013. The center will be established in South Carolina to address the growing need in that community, and is funded by a one million dollar federal grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) under the Fair Housing Initiatives Program. “The South Carolina Fair Housing Center is being founded by community leaders who live in South Carolina – individuals who are painfully aware of the discriminatory practices that exist in their community. Working as a team, NCRC, community leaders and HUD, will work toward our goal of making fair and equal access to housing, capital and credit a reality for individuals living in South Carolina,” said John Taylor, NCRC President and CEO. “We applaud HUD for their commitment to our nation’s communities and for their ongoing efforts to affirmatively further fair housing in our nation’s communities.” There will be an open house and press conference held at the South Carolina Fair Housing Center on September 30 from 2:00- 5:00 PM to introduce the new center’s Board of Directors, and sponsors and to announce the center’s programs. The South Carolina Fair Housing Center will be located at 1925 Bull Street in Columbia, SC, 29201. The center’s phone number is (803) 403-8447. The center’s commitment is to affirmatively furthering fair housing, promoting economic justice, developing decent, safe and affordable housing and expanding small business opportunities in South Carolina.

Westchester loses $7.4M in HUD grants in appeals court ruling

September 20, 2013
Westchester County has lost its fight with the federal governmentover $7.4 million in community development grants for municipalities and nonprofits to help low-income residents.
     A federal appeals court cleared the way Friday for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to send the moneyto other communities in the New York area.
     The ruling came down late Friday after arguments in the morning before a panel of judges in Manhattan.
     Ned McCormack, a spokesman for County Executive Rob Astorino, said HUD is only hurting the people it’s supposed to help. “HUD has succeeded in winning that battle but the county remains firm in its belief that HUD has no right to dismantle local zoning,” he said.

DOJ files lawsuit alleging disability-based discrimination at Helena, Mont., apartment complex -

September 16, 2013
The Justice Department filed a lawsuit yesterday against the owners, builders and designers of an eight unit apartment complex at 175 and 195 Silsbee Avenue in Helena, Mont. for violations of the Fair Housing Act.
     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 must be accessible to persons with disabilities,” said Jocelyn Samuels, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “When apartment complexes are built with steps and other barriers, those with disabilities are denied that equal housing opportunity.” The suit, filed in U.S. District Court in Helena, alleges that various barriers at the Silsbee Avenue property deny persons with disabilities equal access to four ground floor units and the associated public and common use areas.
     Such barriers include inaccessible building entrances; no accessible parking; insufficient accessible routes into and through the units; light switches, electrical outlets, thermostats and other environmental controls inside the units in inaccessible locations; and kitchens that are inaccessible to persons in wheelchairs.

High court to get Mount Holly housing bias case

September 09, 2013
Fresh from race-related rulings this summer on voting rights and affirmative action, the Supreme Court now faces another landmark civil rights case that could make it tougher for minorities to prove housing discrimination.
     At stake is the Fair Housing Act, a law enacted one week after the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination in April 1968 during the race riots that followed. The justices are being asked to weaken the law as interpreted by the Obama administration and lower courts, and civil rights groups weary over this year’s battles are gearing up for another.
     One potential development could reduce the growing tension between those groups and a court they view as antagonistic: a settlement between the small town of Mount Holly, N.J., and low-income residents of a blighted housing complex that has been targeted for redevelopment for a decade.

HUD reaches agreement with Michigan apartment complex owners to settle complaints of housing discrimination against families with children

August 27, 2013
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced today that the owners of Shelby Park Manor apartment complex in Shelby Township, MI, will pay $100,000 as part of an agreement resolving allegations that the property’s on-site manager refused to rent to families with children.
     The Fair Housing Act makes it unlawful to discriminate in the sale or rental of housing based on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, disability, or familial status.
     “For 25 years, federal law has made it illegal to deny housing to families simply because they have children. Likewise, the Fair Housing Act sets forth the standards ’55 and over’ communities must meet if they are to exclude families with children,” said Bryan Greene, HUD’s Acting Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity. “HUD will continue to educate the public, seek voluntary compliance, and enforce these provisions of law.”

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