Newton, Engine 6 reach deal on housing for the homeless

June 15, 2015
he city has reached a voluntary agreement with the groups that filed a complaint over Mayor Setti Warren’s 2013 decision to reverse course and deny funding to a developer that wanted to renovate the former Fire Station 6 in Waban into housing for the chronically homeless.
     City Solicitor Donnalyn Kahn said that the agreement was mutual, with no finding of fault or penalties, and simply outlines how the parties will move forward. The complaint was filed with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
     “From the city’s standpoint, affordable housing inclusive of the chronically homeless and disabled is on our agenda for things to do — that’s why it was easy to go forward with this,” Kahn said.

Discrimination alleged at 13 Seattle rental properties

June 13, 2015
More than a dozen Seattle rental properties — including large, sleek new developments in hot neighborhoods like Ballard and South Lake Union — engaged in housing discrimination, the city says, citing results of sting operations last year.
     Property owners and their agents treated prospective tenants differently based on race, national origin, sexual orientation and gender identity, said the Seattle Office of Civil Rights (SOCR), which contracted with the Fair Housing Center of Washington to have “testers” pose as potential renters.
      The SOCR filed illegal-discrimination complaints earlier this year with the Washington State Human Rights Commission against the owners of 13 properties, including AVA Ballard and Neptune in South Lake Union.
     Together, the 13 properties contain more than 2,800 rental units, according to the city’s rental-housing database.

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.

Court narrows lawsuit alleging bias against hasidim

June 11, 2015
A lawsuit claiming that the Village of Bloomingburg discriminated against Hasidic Jews wanting to live there has survived a winnowing of allegations by a federal judge.
     Southern District Judge Katherine Forrest dismissed several claims, and several plaintiffs and defendants, from the case of Village of Bloomingburg Jewish Education Center v. Village of Bloomingburg, 14-cv-7250, including allegations that village officials discriminated against Hasidim who wanted to build a religious school there.
     But Forrest refused to dismiss claims that a discriminatory animus is blocking certificates of occupancy and building approvals at a major housing development in the 400-resident Catskills village.
     Forrest also declined to dismiss charges that religious discrimination was behind the denial of permission to build a mikvah, a bath used by Hasidic Jews for ritual immersion and purification, in the Town of Mamakating, in which the Village of Bloomingburg sits. The Mamakating Zoning Board of Appeals held that the mikvah did not qualify as a place of worship.

HOA apologizes for asking family to remove wheelchair ramp

June 11, 2015
A Brentwood homeowners association that threatened to sue a family over their wheelchair ramp has apologized.
     MORE Special
      Click to read more headlines from Williamson County.More > HOA threatens to sue homeowner over wheelchair ramp
     A Brentwood homeowners association is threatening to sue a family if they don't take down a wheelchair ramp in the next week.
     Continue reading >> Last summer, Michael Broadnax, a popular Nashville pastor, suffered a debilitating stroke. A few months later, his family learned he could come home for rehabilitation, but they would need to install a wheelchair ramp in a few days before rehab officials would clear the move.
     The family hired a legal contractor and had the ramp installed at the front of their home at the Woodlands at Copperstone in Brentwood. For the last several months, they thought everything was fine. But last week, their homeowners association threatened to sue if they didn't remove the ramp because the family didn't get permission and approval first.

Discrimination lawsuit against New York village can proceed

June 09, 2015
A rural village and a surrounding town can face a $25 million lawsuit alleging Hasidic Jews were blocked from building housing and opening a bath for ritual immersion and purification, a judge ruled Tuesday.
     U.S. District Judge Katherine Forrest said discrimination claims can proceed against the village of Bloomingburg and the Town of Mamakating, in Sullivan County, though she tossed out many claims and narrowed the number of defendants who can be sued.
     The judge allowed plaintiff Sullivan Farms II Inc. to proceed with claims that the village obstructed the completion of a housing development project known as Chestnut Ridge, and she permitted Malka Rosenbaum and Winterton Properties to pursue claims the town and its zoning board stymied the conversion of a Bloomingburg property formerly used as a day spa and a residence into a mikvah, a bath used by Hasidic Jews.

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)

Why Pocatello landlords are being investigated for discrimination

June 04, 2015
The Intermountain Fair Housing Council (IFHC) is investigating alleged discrimination by Pocatello landlords. An article last month in the Idaho State Journal newspaper quoted multiple Pocatello landlords saying they charge higher deposits and advanced rent to Idaho State University students from Middle Eastern countries.
     The nonprofit housing watchdog began to receive complaints before the Journal article was published and more complaints have come in since according to director Zoe Ann Olson.
     Landlords told the Journal that Middle Eastern men are hard on apartments because they don’t clean and they "tend to set up hookahs in the middle of living areas in apartments so they can smoke, and the devices burn holes in the carpet." But Olson says they can’t discriminate based on stereotypes.

Co-op City eases rules for disabled residents to own dogs

June 04, 2015
Co-op City, the largest affordable housing cooperative in the United States, will loosen its policy against owning pets to accommodate disabled residents who require service dogs or other animals, under a federal consent decree announced on Wednesday.
     Riverbay Corp, which manages the complex in the Bronx, will also pay up to a $50,000 civil fine plus up to $600,000 to compensate people harmed by its prior discriminatory practices, the U.S. Department of Justice said. Co-op City, which has about 15,372 units housing 60,000 people, was accused of violating the federal Fair Housing Act by having long made it too burdensome or impossible for disabled residents to get waivers from its strict "no-pets" rule dating to 1965.
     The Justice Department said the co-op, from January 2005 to November 2011, denied 28 out of 42 requests for reasonable accommodations, and at times even threatened disabled residents with eviction unless they gave up their service animals.

Judge reinstates housing discrimination case

June 04, 2015
A lawsuit accusing a Richmond developer, a Henrico County contractor and Richmond architect of discriminating against people with disabilities was reinstated this week, after it was dismissed in April in U.S. District Court in Richmond.
     The U.S. Department of Justice intervened in the case, leading to the reinstatement.
     The suit involves the Shockoe Valley View Apartments, also known as Cedar Street Apartments, a 151-unit complex going up on Cedar Street in Church Hill. It alleges that the project does not comply with accessibility requirements.
     The suit was reinstated by U.S. District Judge James R. Spencer days after the Justice Department asked the court to reconsider its dismissal of the complaint by the National Fair Housing Alliance and Housing Opportunities Made Equal of Virginia Inc., a statewide fair housing advocate.


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