Nazi past of Long Island hamlet persists in a rule for home buyers

October 19, 2015
Here in this rural Long Island community, a Nazi summer camp once held parades before American flags and banners bearing swastikas. Nearby streets were named after Adolf Hitler, Joseph Goebbels and other leaders of Nazi-era Germany.
     While the parades are gone and the streets have been renamed, one thing has not changed: The original owners of this tract of land kept a clause in its bylaws requiring the homeowners to be primarily “of German extraction.” That has kept this community of 45 families almost entirely white.
     It has also left one family frustrated and headed to court to challenge the bylaws. Philip Kneer and Patricia Flynn-Kneer, a couple who lived in a two bedroom, ranch-style home along the main road, are suing the community organization that owns the land under their house, the German American Settlement League, alleging that the league’s housing practices are discriminatory and violate the Fair Housing Act. The complaint was filed on Monday in Federal District Court in Central Islip.

HUD charges Wisconsin landlords with Fair Housing violation

October 14, 2015
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development announced on Oct. 14 that it is charging the owner and managers of an apartment complex in Cross Plains with violating the Fair Housing Act for failing to take action to stop several tenants from harassing a neighbor, who has cerebral palsy, and her daughter with Down’s syndrome.
     The Fair Housing Act makes it unlawful for a housing manager or owner to fail to fulfill a duty to correct and end the harassment of one tenant by another, when that harassment is based on race, color, religion, sex, familial status, national origin or, as was the case here, disability.
     The Fair Housing Act also makes it unlawful to interfere with any person’s right to enjoy their home.
     “A person’s home should be where they feel the greatest level of comfort — not anguish and fear because of being subjected to humiliating and degrading comments,” said Gustavo Velasquez, HUD assistant secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity. “Harassing a person because of their disability is not only disturbing, it is illegal.”

Lawsuit over community for mentally disabled

October 02, 2015
The owners of a proposed residential therapeutic farm community for people with mental disabilities have filed a lawsuit against Cheboygan County.
     Despite the lawsuit, the application has since been scheduled for review by the Cheboygan County Planning Commission during a regular meeting November 4 at 7 p.m. at the Cheboygan Area High School auditorium. Attorneys for Larry and Betsy Hanson filed the suit on August 5 on behalf of Heritage Cove Farm in U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Michigan, Northern Division.
     The Hansons submitted an application to the Cheboygan County Planning and Zoning Department in March to develop their proposed farm community on their property south of Grandview Beach Road in Tuscarora Township. In their application, the Hansons stated their development would provide therapy, support and structure for those adults with mental illness that voluntarily desire and have the capacity to recover and live independently. Heritage Cove Farm would offer an alternative to adult foster care and respite support, the application explains.
     The development would provide temporary housing and meals for mentally disabled adult men and women, according to the application. Twelve residents would be included for the initial first phase, with an additional 12 residents planned for the second phase.

HSBC to face Cook County discriminatory lending lawsuit

October 01, 2015
The Britain-based bank's plea to dismiss the lawsuit filed by Cook County, IL in 2014 was rejected by the U.S. District Judge John Lee in Chicago. The news was reported by Reuters.
     The lawsuit accuses HSBC of using discriminatory lending practices toward minority borrowers. The company had sought dismissal of the case on the ground that it was filed very late by Cook County. Also, the bank questioned the county's legal position for claiming compensation under the U.S. Fair Housing Act. However, Lee rejected HSBC's appeal.
     Notably, while passing the judgment, Lee wrote, "The county has alleged a widespread scheme of discriminatory lending which involved all the various defendants. This is sufficient to survive a motion to dismiss."

Warner, Kaine announce nearly $7million in HUD funding to increase access to fair housing

October 01, 2015
U.S. Senators Mark Warner and Tim Kaine announced that seven Virginia localities and organizations will receive nearly $7 million in grants from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
     The funding will help local governments fight housing discrimination, improve economic conditions and increase access to affordable housing. “These funds will strengthen Virginia communities and improve the quality of life for residents,” said Warner.
     “These are investments in our local neighborhoods that will expand economic opportunity now and in the future.” “Throughout my years in public service and as a lawyer fighting housing discrimination, I’ve seen the tremendous benefits equal access to housing and home ownership can have in our communities,” said Kaine.
     “By ensuring the supply of affordable housing, helping build strong, prosperous communities and educating citizens on their rights?, these grants will make a positive impact on the lives of families in Virginia.”

HUD hands out $38 million to fight housing discrimination

October 01, 2015
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development announced this week that it is awarding $38 million total to more than 100 groups to be used for fighting housing discrimination.
     The money is being awarded as part of HUD’s Fair Housing Initiatives Program.
     According to HUD, the funding provided through the competitive grants will help to support a range of fair housing enforcement efforts, including fair housing testing, as well as activities that help educate the public, housing providers and local governments about their rights and responsibilities under the Fair Housing Act.
     “Combating housing discrimination requires the aggressive enforcement of the nation’s fair housing laws, but HUD can’t do it alone,” said HUD’s Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity Gustavo Velasquez. “The funding we are announcing today will enable organizations committed to justice and equality to support our efforts to ensure that everyone has equal access to available housing opportunities.”

Family of cancer patient says they were victims of discrimination by a charity group

October 01, 2015
he family of a four-year-old cancer patient says they were victims of discrimination when refused housing by the Ronald McDonald House Houston.
     In January, Jolynn Garcia was diagnosed with Medulloblastoma, an aggressive brain cancer. She underwent emergency surgery to remove the tumor. By July she would begin chemotherapy at MD Anderson.
     She and her family are from the Rio Grande Valley so they asked if they could stay at the Ronald McDonald House Houston during treatments. Their request was denied.
     "You all say, advertise, that you don't turn away any child at all. How come you're denying my daughter," asked Jolynn's mother Evelyn Garcia.

Westfork Apartments listed in federal suit

October 01, 2015
On Sept. 30, the Justice Department filed a lawsuit against owners and developers of apartment complexes for failing to make facilities accessible to the disabled, with one of the complexes in question located in Jasper.
     The lawsuit filed against Alabama-based developers Allan Rappuhn, Gateway Construction Corporation, Gateway Development Corporation and affiliated companies states that 71 apartment complexes in Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina and Tennessee fail to meet Fair Housing Act (FHA) and Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requirements for accessible housing for the disabled.
     “Those who design and build multifamily housing complexes are required by federal laws that have been on the books for over two decades to provide accessible features for persons with disabilities,” Vanita Gupta, the principal deputy assistant attorney general and head of the Civil Rights Division, said in a press release from the Department of Justice. “Unlawful barriers deny Americans with disabilities the basic right to equal housing opportunities.”

Town settles civil rights lawsuit

September 30, 2015
The Town of Darien has settled a 4-year-old lawsuit against the Planning & Zoning Commission claiming the town rejected an affordable housing development proposal on the basis of discrimination against minorities.
     Plaintiff Chris Hamer will be paid $150,000 under the settlement, according to his attorney, New Haven-based John Williams.
     Two years ago, a federal judge dropped the name of former Planning and Zoning Commission Chairman Fred Conze from the suit, granting him legislative immunity for his actions, but ruled the claims against the town should proceed. The case had been set to go to trial last month, Williams said.

DOJ reaches settlement with Eagle Bank and Trust Company to resolve allegations of lending discrimination in St. Louis

September 29, 2015
The Justice Department filed a consent order today to resolve allegations that Eagle Bank and Trust Company (Eagle Bank) engaged in a pattern or practice of “redlining” predominantly African-American neighborhoods in and around St. Louis. “Redlining” is the discriminatory practice by banks or other financial institutions to deny or avoid providing credit services to a consumer because of the racial demographics of the neighborhood in which the consumer lives. This is the second redlining settlement that the department has announced in the past week.
     As a result of the settlement, Eagle Bank will open two new locations to serve the residents of African American neighborhoods in northern St. Louis. The bank will also invest at least $975,000 to provide banking and borrowing opportunities to residents and businesses in those areas. The settlement, which is subject to court approval, was filed in conjunction with the department’s complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri.
     The complaint alleges violations of the Fair Housing Act and the Equal Credit Opportunity Act (ECOA), which prohibit financial institutions from discriminating on the basis of race and color in their mortgage lending practices.


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