Northampton, MA

Delap Real Estate of Northampton, landlords agree to settle fair housing discrimination allegations

December 22, 2015
A local real estate agency has agreed to settle allegations that the company and its agents violated the federal Fair Housing Act by discouraging families with children from renting over concerns that units might contain lead-based paint hazards, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development announced Monday.
     Delap Real Estate LLC, at 158 North King St., and two area property owners will pay a combined $9,500 to the Housing Discrimination Project in Holyoke. Delap also has agreed to use the phrases “children welcome” or “family friendly” in all rental advertisements for the next year and to help develop a public service campaign about fair housing for radio broadcast, according to two settlement agreements approved by HUD.
     The agreements do not “constitute an admission by Respondents of any violation of any statute or regulation,” according to the documents, which also state that the agreements do not represent a finding of liability. Reached by the Gazette Monday, a co-owner of the agency and one property owner each said they had not engaged in any discriminatory practices.

Court rules in favor of veteran

July 03, 2009
In a ruling that could have an effect on housing authority tenants throughout the state, three appeals court justices have said that the Northampton Housing Authority cannot charge a disabled veteran more than the fair market rate for his apartment.
     The ruling issued Tuesday reverses a Housing Court decision that granted the Northampton Housing Authority $56,297 in back rent and other costs and allowed it to charge Vietnam veteran Daniel Kahle $934 a month for his apartment.
     Kahle has lived in subsidized Housing Authority housing since 1996 and paid rent based on his income. On March of 2005, the Board of Veterans Appeals found that he was entitled to compensation for post traumatic stress disorder and that his compensation was retroactive to 1998. In addition to a substantial increase in his disability payments, Kahle received a check for his retroactive payments in the amount of $173,704, according to the facts presented in the court ruling.
     Prior to his change in compensation, Kahle's rent was $254 a month. In July, 2005, the Housing Authority notified him that state regulations allow it to charge him up to 30 percent of his income and raised his rent to $934. It also billed Kahle $54,192 in retroactive rent payments.
     According to the appeals court decision, the Northampton Housing Authority had the discretion to exclude Kahle's disability payments from its formula for calculating his rent but chose not to do so. Justices Raya S. Dreben, Fernande R.V. Duffy and Peter J. Rubin noted that 11 other Northampton Housing Authority tenants received similar disability compensation within the last three years.

Jury rules former friend tried to cheat disabled man out of Ware home

May 29, 2009
A Hampshire Superior Court jury has found in favor of a disabled man who claimed that a former friend cheated him out of his Ware home.
     Kenneth McKeon, 52, alleged that David Swist took advantage of his brain injury by deceiving McKeon into signing over the title of his 52 Pulaski St. home. According to court documents, McKeon suffers memory loss, language problems, and visual impairments as the result of a catastrophic car accident in 1983.
     In his suit, McKeon said that Swist manipulated him into deeding over the property in 2006, and then tried to evict him. Swist also took out an $80,000 equity loan on the property from Countryside Bank FSB, the suit states.
     Swist maintained that he was not aware of McKeon's brain injury, and that he obtained title to the house properly. As Swist explained his version of events at the trial this month, he had been paying McKeon to rent the second floor of the house, and bought food for McKeon.
     He described McKeon as an alcoholic who has been charged with assault and operating while under the influence of alcohol.

Parties settle in housing case

May 13, 2005
A Northampton man who said his landlord discriminated against him by refusing to accept a rent voucher has won a settlement in the case, according to fair housing advocates.
     Wilton Hall, a resident of the Prospect Street Apartments, filed a complaint in the Massachusetts Housing Court against the property's former owner, George Christian, after Christian refused to sign a Section 8 voucher. The vouchers are federal rent subsidies administered locally by the Northampton Housing Authority.
     Hall received legal advice from the Housing Discrimination Project, a nonprofit organization that promotes fair housing practices in central and Western Massachusetts.
     The complaint was withdrawn after Hall and Christian settled out of court, according to Eric J. Bove the organization's legal director. Under the terms of the agreement, Christian paid Hall $21,000 for damages, lawyers' fees and court costs.

Couple donates award in housing-bias lawsuit

July 09, 2003
A couple evicted from their Leeds home is donating money won in a housing-discrimination suit to the Holyoke organization that helped them.
     Frederick Breeden and Margaret Anderson won a $15,000 award from their landlord, former Northampton City Councilor George Quinn, because he evicted them after they requested a lead inspection of their home, according to their attorney, Eric Bove of the Housing Discrimination Project.
     Bove's group, for which he is the legal director, is a nonprofit organization based in Holyoke that works to prevent housing discrimination.
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