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Insurance denials fuel racial segregation, suit alleges
     (WASHINGTON, May 17, 2016) -- The National Fair Housing Alliance filed suit against a major insurance company Tuesday, alleging it refuses to insure buildings where tenants pay rent with public vouchers, a violation of local and federal housing laws.
     Travelers Indemnity Co. has consistently denied commercial building owners habitational insurance — critical insurance for multi-unit building owners that covers tenant liabilities — according to the lawsuit, filed in US District Court.
      Connecticut-based Travelers said the company does not comment on pending litigation.
     The denials of insurance are exacerbating a lack of affordable housing in Washington, said Shanna Smith, president of the National Fair Housing Alliance. That’s because building owners are refusing to rent to residents who use vouchers, since it makes it more difficult to obtain insurance, she said. FULL STORY at bostonglobe.com

Minneapolis and St. Paul settle federal housing complaints, agree to further review
     (MINNEAPOLIS, Minn., May 17, 2016) -- A year after neighborhood groups and affordable housing advocates filed federal complaints saying Minneapolis and St. Paul contributed to racial and ethnic segregation, community members said they are cautiously optimistic that change is on the way.
     The complaints by the Metropolitan Interfaith Council on Affordable Housing (MICAH), lodged with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, said the Twin Cities concentrated affordable housing in “low-opportunity, high-poverty communities” — allegations the cities deny.
     But instead of having HUD investigate the claims, the cities opted to negotiate voluntary compliance agreements. The agreements require that they include more community members as they analyze and address regional affordable housing issues. FULL STORY at startribune.com

Justice Department settles with Beaumont over alleged disability discrimination
     (BEAUMONT, Texas, May 17, 2016) -- The Justice Department announced a settlement with the city of Beaumont, Texas, for $475,000 over allegations the city discriminated against persons with intellectual or developmental disabilities trying to live in small group homes in residential districts. The city has also agreed to make changes to its zoning and land use practices.
     “Persons with disabilities have the same right to live in and enjoy their communities as all other families do throughout our nation,” Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta, head of the Civil Rights Division, said. “The Justice Department will continue to eliminate discriminatory barriers that impede these individuals from doing so.” FULL STORY at setexasrecord.com

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