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Wall Street Could Win Big If SCOTUS Guts Fair Housing Act
     (WASHINGTON, May 22, 2015) -- If the state of Texas prevails in a civil rights case about to be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court, landlords and developers will have an easier time defending themselves in housing discrimination lawsuits.
     But the biggest beneficiary of a win for Texas could well be Wall Street.
     The case alleges that the way Texas allocates low-income housing credits violates the 1968 Fair Housing Act, an issue with little direct connection to banking. But trade groups representing banks and other financial services companies hope that the high court will set a legal precedent in its ruling that could also be used to defend against lending discrimination lawsuits. FULL STORY by Reuters

Chicago-area mobile home park faces Fair Housing Act lawsuit
     (CROWN POINT, Ill., May 18, 2015) -- The federal government is suing a Crown Point, Ill., mobile home park, claiming the park refuses to rent any of its homes to families with children.
     The lawsuit, filed Monday in the U.S. District Court in Hammond, lists Gentle Manor Estates, at 1305 E. North St., and John Townsend, who is listed with the state as the owner, as defendants.
     Townsend could not be reached for comment. FULL STORY in The Chicago Tribune

OPINION: Housing Apartheid, American Style
     (NEW YORK, May 17, 2015) -- The riots that erupted in Baltimore last month were reminiscent of those that consumed cities all over the country during the 1960s. This rage and unrest was thoroughly explained five decades ago by President Lyndon Johnson’s National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders, also known as the Kerner Commission. The commission’s report was released in 1968 — the year that the assassination of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. touched off riots in 125 cities — and contains the most candid indictment of racism and segregation seen in such a document, before or since.
     The commission told white Americans what black citizens already knew: that the country was “moving toward two societies, one black, one white — separate and unequal.” It linked the devastating riots that consumed Detroit and Newark in 1967 to residential segregation that had been sustained and made worse by federal policies that concentrated poor black citizens in ghettos. It also said that discrimination and segregation had become a threat to “the future of every American.” FULL EDITORIAL in The New York Times

Anchorage to change zoning restrictions said to discriminate against disabled
     (ANCHORAGE, Ala., May 14, 2015) -- The Municipality of Anchorage has agreed to change zoning requirements that the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development says discriminated against people with disabilities, including those suffering from alcoholism, as part of an agreement reached between the city and agency.
     The deal stems from a complaint brought by the federal agency last year, asserting that municipal code in some cases put unfair and excessive restrictions on housing for people with disabilities.
     If group homes are allowed in certain neighborhoods, there has to be a level playing field for all groups, whether it’s a home for families of domestic violence, for ex-cons, or recovering alcoholics, said Leland Jones, a spokesperson for the department based in Seattle. FULL STORY at adn.com

Fannie Mae accused of racial discrimination in maintenance of REOs
     (WASHINGTON, May 14, 2015) -- In a complaint filed this week with federal housing officials, Fannie Mae was accused of showing a pattern of racial discrimination by allowing its stock of foreclosed properties to deteriorate in non-white neighborhoods, while doing a better job of maintaining and marketing properties in largely white areas.
     The National Fair Housing Alliance (NFHA), a consortium of more than 200 private nonprofit housing organizations, filed the complaint Wednesday on behalf of itself and 19 other fair-housing groups with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
     NFHA said Fannie violated the Fair Housing Act through unequal treatment. Rundown real-estate owned (REOs) properties in non-white neighborhoods are contributing to blight, health and safety hazards and placing a burden on neighbors and the local governments, the complaint says. FULL STORY at scotsmanguide.com

Settlement over Spanish translators costs housing authority $18K
     (HAZELTON, PA., May 14, 2015) -- Hazleton Housing Authority agreed to pay $18,000 to settle allegations leveled by six Latino families who say the authority violated their civil rights by denying limited English proficiency services to Spanish-speaking individuals, the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced Wednesday.
     HUD officials said they reached a “conciliation agreement” with the local authority that settles allegations Hazleton Housing Authority violated housing rights of Spanish-speaking applicants and tenants by requiring them to supply their own interpreters to communicate with housing authority staff, according to a news release issued by HUD.
     Community Justice Project, a nonprofit public interest law firm, represented the families. FULL STORY at standardspeaker.com

Retirement Home to Pay $390K to Settle Lawsuit
     (NORFOLK, VA., May 14, 2015) -- A Norfolk, Va., retirement home will pay $390,000 to settle federal claims it violated the Fair Housing Act by failing to afford all of its disabled residents equal access to facilities, sponsored events and motorized wheelchair usage.
     In a complaint filed May 11 in the Norfolk Federal Court, the Justice Department said the Fort Norfolk Retirement Community, also known as Harbor's Edge, instituted policies that effectively segregated its resident population into distinct groups based on their level of disability and well-being.
     A consent order filed at the same time as the complaint, and still awaiting the approval of U.S. District Judge Henry Morgan Jr., says that Harbor's Edge will pay $350,000 to residents harmed by the policies, and $40,000 to the federal government.
     The agreement also requires Harbor's Edge to appoint a Fair Housing Act compliance officer and implement a new dining and events policy, a new reasonable accommodation policy and a new motorized wheelchair policy. FULL STORY at courthousenews.com

Medina Metropolitan Housing Authority settles discrimination case with HUD
     (MEDINA, Ohio, May 14, 2015) -- The Medina Metropolitan Housing Authority must devote $35,000 to assist low-income people moving into Medina County to settle a housing discrimination case brought by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
     The "voluntary compliance agreement" resolves the allegation that "the housing authority discriminated against African Americans in the administration of its Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program, a violation of Title VI of the Civil Right Act of 1964 (Title VI) and the Fair Housing Act," HUD said in a news release.
     The Medina Housing Authority had a "residency preference point system that effectively imposed a residency requirement, thus putting African Americans who did not live or work in Medina County at a disadvantage," HUD said. FULL STORY at cleveland.com

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