Old news(More recent news is available here.)
HUD report finds people living with mental disabilities face significant rental housing discrimination
September 5, 2017 WASHINGTON — Persons living with mental illness, intellectual or other developmental disabilities continue to face significant housing discrimination in the rental housing market, according to a new pilot study released today by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
The pilot study revealed that individuals with mental disabilities seeking rental housing were:
The main pilot study and four supplemental papers can be found at https://www.huduser.gov/portal/publications/MentalDisabilities-FinalPaper.html.
COFHA and 19 fair housing organizations charge Deutsche Bank and its preservation maintenance companies with housing discrimination based on race and national origin
July 26, 2017 — The National Fair Housing Alliance (NFHA) announced that it has found substantial new evidence in support of allegations that Deutsche Bank, Ocwen Financial, and Altisource continue to discriminate against communities of color in 30 metropolitan areas throughout the United States. NFHA has filed an amended administrative complaint with the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). NFHA alleges that Deutsche Bank AG, Deutsche Bank National Trust, Deutsche Bank Trust Company Americas, Ocwen Financial Corporation, and Altisource Portfolio Solutions, Inc. fail to provide required routine maintenance on bank-owned homes in middle- and working-class African American and Latino neighborhoods, while Deustche/Ocwen/Altisource consistently provide routine maintenance on similar bank-owned homes in white neighborhoods.
Fair Housing Accessibility Design & Construction Training
Tuesday, July 11, 2017
Registration for the free training is closed. However, we can still accommodate a few more participants in the room. There is a fee of $35 per late registration; late registration fees are non-refundable under any circumstances. Late registrants will still receive the full continuing education credit, provided they attend the full session.
All registrants should note that the location of the class has been changed to:
Ohio Union — 2nd Floor
1739 N. High Street
Columbus, OH 43210
To register for the class or to see detailed information including info about parking and info for people with mobility issues, please visit:
Fair Housing Accessibility Design & Construction Training
Tuesday, July 11, 2017
The Central Ohio Fair Housing Association invites you to a free* training on the Accessible Design and Construction Requirements of the Federal Fair Housing Act (FHA). This workshop will educate housing and construction professionals on the FHA’s technical requirements and HUD’s Fair Housing Accessibility Guidelines and will promote compliance with those requirements.
This course has been approved for 6.0 HSW hours of continuing education by the Ohio Architects Board and the Ohio Landscape Architects Board. This course has been approved by the Supreme Court of Ohio Commission on Continuing Legal Education for 5.75 total CLE hours instruction. This course has been approved for 6.0 hours of continuing education credits by the Ohio Department of Commerce, Division of Real Estate and Professional Licensing.
For more information or to register go to:
Registration closes at 5:00 pm EDT on Monday, July 3.
Proposed White House budget for HUD would slash funding for housing and community development programs
According to a report from Politico.com, the White House's proposed budget for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) would cut funding in fiscal year 2018 to about $40 billion, a cut of $6 billion. In the budget draft obtained by Politico, the administration says it will rely upon “a greater role for state and local governments and the private sector” in paying for programs previously funded by HUD.
Among the programs that would be eliminated are the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program, the Choice Neighborhoods revitalizations program, and the HOME Investment Partnerships Program. CDBG grants help low- and moderate-income communities with development projects such as housing, roads and sewer.
The draft budget also includes cuts of $974 million to rental assistance for tenants, eliminating a veterans housing program, reducing money available for Section 8 vouchers, and reducing capital funding for public housing.
The National Low Income Housing Coalition’s president, Diane Yentel, criticized the proposed budget, saying, “The budget reflects a cruel indifference to the millions of low-income seniors, people with disabilities, families with children, veterans, and other vulnerable people who are struggling to keep a roof over their heads.”
For more information, read Politico’s article, “HUD budget slashes housing programs, drawing protests from advocates.”
Fair Housing 101 Workshop
Tenant and Landlord Rights and Responsibilities
COFHA and the Center for Disability Empowerment present Fair Housing 101 Workshop. The workshop is approved for 1 hour of CEUs for real estate agents by the Ohio Department of Commerce.
At the workshop you will:
Three Dates and Locations
To register and for any reasonable accommodation requests, including interpreting, please email Derek Mortland at firstname.lastname@example.org or call the Center for Disability Empowerment at 614-575-8055.
Fair Housing laws protect immigrants, refugees, and people of all religious faiths
COFHA can help you
State and federal fair housing laws prohibit discrimination based on national origin, religion, and ancestry. See our mission statement for a complete list of all the people protected from discrimination and to see the services available to assist those who experience discrimination.
Fair housing laws protect immigrants, refugees and people of all religious faiths.
Call Central Ohio Fair Housing Association (COFHA) at 614-344-4663 if you think you have been the victim of housing discrimination because you are an immigrant or a refugee, because of where you are from, or because of your religious faith.
The fair housing laws protect you regardless of your immigration status.
It is illegal for landlords to treat you differently because of your immigration status, national origin, or religion. That means people involved in renting homes cannot:
It is illegal for landlords to ask you to identify your religion.
It is illegal for landlords to ask you questions about your immigration status because of how you look, talk or dress.
Some landlords, owners, real estate agents, etc., might ask if you are in the country legally, ask to see your green card or visa, or ask for your Social Security number. If you think that you are being asked about your immigration status because of where you are from, call COFHA at 614-344-4663.
State and federal fair housing laws continue to protect you once you are living in your house or apartment. Landlords, owners, real estate agents, or anyone else may not:
Harassment or threats include:
You are also protected if you are buying a home or attempting to get a mortgage. If you believe you are being prevented from buying a home or getting a loan because of your immigration status, refugee status or your religion, call COFHA at 614-344-4663.
*There are some exemptions from the fair housing laws. Even if you think your landlord may be exempt from the laws, please call COFHA at 614-344-4663.
Donald Trump Is Targeting an Agency That Has Recovered $11.8 Billion for Consumers
January 30th, 2017 — Within days of being sworn in, President Donald Trump has already pledged to cut business regulations by 75%. One way he is likely to fulfill that promise, at least in part, is by defanging a legacy of the 2008 financial crisis: the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
That could mean the functional end to the consumer watchdog, which has been responsible for returning roughly $11.8 billion to some 29 million consumers since its inception in 2011, according to data from the bureau. That's an average of $407 returned to each affected consumer, affecting roughly 9% of the U.S. population (assuming no single consumer was a victim in more than one case).
The agency was conceived by a group of consumer advocates including Elizabeth Warren (then a Harvard Law School professor and congressional advisor, and now a senator from Massachusetts), partly in response to reports of deceptive mortgage lending practices that helped precipitate the housing crash. Designed to safeguard consumers in their dealings with the financial-services industry, the CFPB has made moves to curb abuses in the payday, student, and auto lending industries. The agency has also focused on predatory lending practices that target low-income consumers that can ill afford their loans.
Read the entire article here.
Justice Department Reaches Settlement with Ohio-Based Banks to Resolve Allegations of Lending Discrimination
Settlement Provides $9 Million to Ensure Equal Lending Services to African-American Communities in Ohio and Indiana
December 29th, 2016 — The Justice Department filed a consent order today to resolve allegations that Union Savings Bank and Guardian Savings Bank engaged in a pattern or practice of “redlining” predominantly African-American neighborhoods in and around Cincinnati; Columbus, Ohio; Dayton, Ohio; and Indianapolis. “Redlining” is the discriminatory practice by banks or other financial institutions of denying or avoiding providing credit services to consumers because of the racial demographics of the neighborhood in which the consumer lives.
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 Southern District of Ohio. The complaint alleges that Union and Guardian violated the Fair Housing Act and the Equal Credit Opportunity Act, which prohibit financial institutions from discriminating on the basis of race and color in their mortgage lending practices. The lawsuit alleges that, from at least 2010 through 2014, Union and Guardian served the credit needs of the residents of predominantly white neighborhoods to a significantly greater extent than they served the credit needs of majority African-American neighborhoods. Those neighborhoods are easily recognized because each of the four metropolitan areas in which the banks operate has long maintained highly-segregated residential housing patterns for African Americans. Both banks are headquartered in Cincinnati and share common ownership and management.
Read the entire article on the Department of Justice’s website.
The New York Times Article on Federal Lawsuit Over Neglected Foreclosures
December 13th, 2016 — The New York Times has written about our lawsuit against Fannie Mae. Reporters Emily Badger and Quoctrung Bui’s article, “Mowed Lawns or Broken Mailboxes: Foreclosure’s Unequal Toll,” reviews the evidence compiled by COFHA, the National Fair Housing Alliance and 19 other fair housing organizations that shows Fannie Mae’s neglect of the foreclosed properties it owns in minority neighborhoods.
From the article:
In Baton Rouge, La., Gloria Williams lives next door to property No. 8440 in the investigation’s database, a blue-and-white clapboard house that had what seemed to be a jungle out back and boarded-up windows when investigators visited it in 2014. Ms. Williams, 75, has lived on the block for 47 years, in a home where she raised her son and cared for her mother and has always made sure the lawn was mowed. Her census tract, as of 2010, was 98 percent black.
“They wouldn’t dare let a house grow up like that in a white community — they’d have had somebody out there cutting the grass every week,” Ms. Williams said of the property next door. On final count, it logged 16 problems. “You don’t live here, so it doesn’t bother you,” she said, “but it bothers people that live here.”
Read the entire article on The New York Times website.
Statement from Shanna Smith, President and CEO of the National Fair Housing Alliance, on President-elect Trump’s Selection to Lead the Department of Housing and Urban Development
December 6th, 2016 — Shanna L. Smith, President and CEO of the National Fair Housing Alliance (NFHA), issued the following statement on the selection of Dr. Ben Carson as the proposed Secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development:
The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) plays a crucial role in our nation’s communities. HUD’s many programs help ensure that each of us has a safe, decent and affordable home in which to live, creating a stable foundation for success in life. They also help to create vibrant, healthy communities that provide their residents with access to the opportunities they need to flourish. Perhaps most important of all is the role that HUD plays in enforcing the Fair Housing Act, so that no one seeking housing is turned away because of their race, color, religion, national origin, sex, family status or disability. There are an estimated 4 million acts of housing discrimination each year. This discrimination not only violates the law, it runs counter to our country’s strongly-held values of fairness and equal opportunity. We need a strong leader at HUD who believes in fair housing and will enforce our fair housing rights with vigor and determination.
A critical component of HUD’s fair housing responsibilities is its work to carry out the mandate it was given by Congress to break down the barriers created by the many decades of government policies that explicitly created segregated communities, to the detriment of the people in those communities and our nation as a whole. This mandate recognizes that where you live matters, because it determines your access to good jobs, good schools, reliable and affordable transportation, a clean and safe environment, and many other aspects of your life. Fulfilling this mandate requires strategic use of federal and other resources both to reinvest in neighborhoods—often poor communities of color—that have been neglected and left behind, and to connect more affordable housing with good schools, jobs and the like. This is a mandate that the next HUD secretary must embrace.
Through the Federal Housing Administration (FHA), HUD also plays an important role in the mortgage market. FHA has been a major source of home purchasing for people of color, as well as those with modest incomes. It has put thousands of families on a safe and sustainable path to building wealth that they can use to send their children to college, start or expand a small business, pay for retirement, and pass along to the next generation. FHA helped to stabilize the mortgage market in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis and the tidal wave of foreclosures that accompanied it, a national tragedy that must never be repeated. Households of color represent the majority of new household formation and will be the majority of new home buyers in the future. If they lack access to safe, affordable and sustainable credit, this country will not have a robust housing market and the economy will suffer. The new HUD secretary must understand and support this role for FHA.
Should Dr. Carson be confirmed by Congress, NFHA and its members are committed to working with him and the next administration to continue the important work of the Fair Housing Act—protecting individuals and families from discrimination, and building strong neighborhoods that provide their residents with robust opportunities for success.
COFHA, National Fair Housing Alliance and 19 Other Civil Rights Groups File Federal Lawsuit Over Neglected Foreclosures
The lawsuit is the result of a multi-year investigation. During the past several years, Fannie Mae was notified many times of its failure to maintain and market its foreclosed homes in communities of color to the same standard to which it was maintaining and marketing the foreclosed homes it owned in similar, predominantly white neighborhoods. In spite of numerous meetings with Fannie Mae to address these disparities in maintenance and marketing, Fannie Mae persisted in its willful neglect of its properties in African American and Latino neighborhoods.
Visit COFHA at the Columbus Build, Remodel & Landscape Expo
December 5, 2016 — The Central Ohio Fair Housing Association will be exhibiting at the Columbus Build, Remodel & Landscape Expo on January 6–8 at the Greater Columbus Convention Center, halls E and F.
Housing Is Health Care in the LGBTQ and HIV/AIDS Community Presentation
October 17, 2016 — John Zimmerman, Vice President of the Central Ohio Fair Housing Association, will present a session titled Housing Is Health Care in the LGBTQ and HIV/AIDS Community at the 2016 Transforming Care Midwest Conference on LGBTQ Health Equity and HIV/AIDS on Thursday, October 20, 2016 at 9:45AM at the Fawcett Center at The Ohio State University.
About the conference:
The conference runs October 20-21, 2016. For more information about the conference, including information about keynote speakers, schedules, information about CEUs, and to register visit transformingcareconference.com.
HUD Announces New Protections for Victims of Harassment in Housing
September 30, 2016 — The Department of Housing and Urban Development released the final version of a rule on September 13, 2016 that formalizes legal standards under the Fair Housing Act for sexual and other forms of harassment in housing.
The rule, Quid Pro Quo and Hostile Environment Harassment and Liability for Discriminatory Housing Practices Under the Fair Housing Act, “specifies how HUD will evaluate claims of “hostile environment” and “quid pro quo” harassment in both private and publicly-assisted housing.” (Click to read HUD’s press release.)
The major provisions of this rule:
City of Los Angeles to pay more than $200 million in largest accessibility settlement involving affordable housing
L.A. will ensure that 4,000 units are accessible to people who use wheelchairs, have hearing impairments or live with other disabilities
August 31, 2016 — The City of Los Angeles has agreed to settle a federal lawsuit brought by advocates for fair housing and accessible housing that alleged the city failed to build accessible housing in the affordable housing complexes developed by the city with public money.
The Fair Housing Council of San Fernando Valley, the Independent Living Center of Southern California, and Communities Actively Living Independent and Free brought the lawsuit because they said L.A. had flouted state and federal anti-discrimination laws requiring that housing built with government assistance be built to meet particular accessibility standards such as doorways, kitchens and bathrooms that can accommodate wheelchairs.
“They were not merely technical violations,” said the groups’s attorney, Michael Allen of Relman, Dane & Colfax. “They were, in every instance that we studied, significant barriers to people with disabilities using those units, and in some cases the common areas leading to them.”
For more information about the case and its settlement, read this article in the LA Times.
Affordable housing program concentrates family housing development in highly-segregated poor neighborhoods, according to new report
Groups urge Ohio Housing Finance Agency to broaden opportunities for families with children to live in areas of high opportunity
Click to read the report on
August 16, 2016 — According to a new report—LIHTC Awards in Ohio, 2006–2015: Where Are They Providing Housing for Families with Children?—Ohio’s Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) program has maintained historic patterns of racial and economic segregation. The report, commissioned by legal aid and fair housing programs in Ohio and prepared by Abt Associates (a national research firm with expertise in housing), found that in Montgomery County and all of Ohio virtually all affordable rental housing developed through the program for families has been placed in highly-segregated, high poverty areas. Moreover, the LIHTC program has also cut back on development of housing serving families with children.
People on low incomes continue to find it more difficult to find housing they can afford. In Ohio, the LIHTC program helps finance affordable rental-housing units for low-income households and is administered by the Ohio Housing Finance Agency (OHFA). The LIHTC program is designed to provide families access safe and affordable housing. It helps non-profit and for-profit developers finance affordable housing through federal tax breaks. Yet, through prioritization within its Qualified Allocation Plan and through the awards granted by LIHTC, OFHA perpetuates segregation and reduces housing choice for low-income, African American households and households with children.
The report documents that:
“This report could not be any clearer. OHFA is failing in its obligation to Affirmatively Further Fair Housing,” said Jim McCarthy, President/CEO of the Miami Valley Fair Housing Center (MVFHC) and the Central Ohio Fair Housing Association (COFHA).
“This has been a long-standing problem with the LIHTC program,” McCarthy added. “A 2008 report to the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination found that the implementation of LIHTC had replicated the public housing trend of concentrating developments in highly segregated, poor neighborhoods throughout the United States. This report just brings it home and quantifies the extent of the Ohio problem—particularly in the six largest Ohio metropolitan areas.”
The neighborhood in which a child grows up has a profound influence on that child’s life opportunities including their educational attainment, overall health, income, exposure to dangers and life expectancy. A recent survey by Housing Research & Advocacy Center in Cleveland shows that low income families want housing near good schools in safe neighborhoods. Properties funded under the LIHTC program have not improved access to housing choices for low income families, instead resulting in LIHTC awards steadily placing family housing in high-poverty and racially segregated areas.
“As this report also demonstrates, there is a desperate need for economic development efforts in areas where affordable housing currently exists that will transform these distressed urban neighborhoods into diverse communities with high opportunity, access to jobs, transit, and quality education,” says Matthew Currie, Managing Attorney at Advocates for Basic Legal Equality, Inc. (ABLE).
“OHFA must correct for the historical imbalance in its LIHTC allocations, as shown in Abt’s report, through bold action in its future awards,” continued Currie.
Legal aid programs and fair housing organizations in Ohio represent clients and communities that seek and support fair housing choice through the LIHTC program. In addition to MVFHC, COFHA and ABLE, they include Community Legal Aid Services, Inc.; Fair Housing Contact Service; Housing Opportunities Made Equal; Housing Research & Advocacy Center; The Legal Aid Society of Cleveland; The Legal Aid Society of Columbus; Legal Aid Society of Southwest Ohio, LLC; Ohio Disability Rights Law and Policy Center, Inc.; Ohio Poverty Law Center; Southeastern Ohio Legal Services; and Toledo Fair Housing Center.
Large regional property management company accused of housing discrimination
AMP Residential properties in Ohio, Michigan and Indiana allegedly discriminated against families with children
July 13, 2016 — The Central Ohio Fair Housing Association (COFHA) has joined with the Fair Housing Center of West Michigan, the Fair Housing Center of Central Indiana (FHCCI), the Fair Housing Center of Southeast and Mid Michigan (FHCSEM), and the Fair Housing Center of Southwest Michigan (FHCSWM) in filing a fair housing complaint against AMP Residential, an Indianapolis-based property management company that owns and operates over 8,000 rental housing units in Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, and Alabama. The complaint alleges that AMP has engaged in systemic discrimination against families with children across 20 properties evaluated in three states.
“Where a family lives dictates the parents’ access to employment, the children’s access to good schools, and the family’s access to grocery stores, healthcare, and other vital services,” said Jim McCarthy, COFHA’s President/CEO. “AMP Residential’s refusal to rent to families with children is a deliberate denial of their right to choose the communities that best serve their needs.”
COFHA, FHCWM, FHCCI, FHCSEM, and FHCSWM conducted a joint systemic investigation into the AMP properties located in their respective states. The complaint alleges that 20 apartment complexes, including Muirwood Village in Columbus, Ohio, were found to have unlawfully refused to rent units to families with children. Such overly restrictive occupancy standards impact the ability of families of children to find affordable, safe housing in neighborhoods of their choice.
In the complaint, AMP Residential is alleged to have a stated occupancy standard of no more than two people per bedroom in each apartment or townhome, regardless of the unit’s square footage or whether that unit has a den, office, or other feature that could provide an additional bedroom or living area for a child. AMP enforces this policy without regard to local health and property maintenance codes that state the square footage required for each occupant. In each of the 20 properties named in the complaint, AMP was found to have denied housing to families with children despite the apartments having ample square footage for the family size to be allowed by local codes. Not only were the families prohibited from living in particular units, but also many were denied from the complexes altogether due to their family size.
The following documents are available for additional information:
Fair housing organizations file suit alleging violations of Fair Housing Act at multiple Metro Development properties
COFHA and MVFHC file federal lawsuit alleging accessibility violations
June 28, 2016 — The Central Ohio Fair Housing Association (COFHA) and the Miami Valley Fair Housing Center (MVFHC) have filed a federal lawsuit alleging that the developers, designers, management company, and owners of eight multifamily apartment complexes in metropolitan Columbus violated and continue to violate the accessibility requirements of the federal Fair Housing Amendments Act (FHAA). The suit, filed on June 24, 2016, alleges that Metro Development LLC and several other companies have engaged in a pattern or practice of discrimination against people with disabilities in violation of the FHAA.
The defendants in the case include Metro Development LLC; Integrated Partners Development Company LLC; Oxford Circle Development LLC; Triangle Properties Development, LLC; Ardent Property Management, Inc.; SBA Studios LLC; Albany Landings LLC; Four Pointe LLC; Northpark Place LLC; Remington Woods LLC; The Monroe House LLC; The Residences at Central Park LLC; The Woods at Perry Lane LLC; Winchester Park LLC; and the individual and corporate owners of buildings and/or dwelling units located at various properties, named solely because they may be necessary to effectuate any injunctive relief with respect to access, retrofitting, and policy implementation that may be ordered by the court in this matter.
The lawsuit alleges that Northpark Place and at least seven other properties in the Columbus area were designed by the same designer, developed by the same developers, are operated by the same management firm, have the same or similar floor plans, have the same design elements, and contain the same or similar design and construction violations.
In August 2015, after becoming aware that the multifamily housing complexes designed and/or developed by Metro Development did not include the FHAA’s required accessible and adaptable design elements, COFHA and MVFHC initiated an investigation of the properties including obtaining the plans and occupancy permits for Northpark and the other properties, visiting the properties, and reviewing information that is publicly available, including floor plans, showing the layout and structure for the properties.
The lawsuit explains that the plaintiffs’ 10-month investigation identified multiple FHAA design and construction violations at each property. Some of the issues revealed by the investigation and alleged in the lawsuit as violations include: lack of accessible bathrooms; lack of sufficient centered clear floor space at bathroom sinks, toilets, and other amenities for people with disabilities to enter and use the facilities; lack of adequate space in the kitchens for a person in a wheelchair to enter, maneuver, and access the appliances; lack of an accessible route from the pedestrian arrival areas to the primary entrances of dwellings; and lack of accessible mailboxes and gate hardware, which are located outside of reach range for wheelchair users and are therefore too high for some persons with disabilities to use them.
The Fair Housing Act makes it possible for organizations like COFHA and MVFHC to sue on behalf of the community in order to root out housing discrimination and to ensure equal housing opportunities for all residents regardless of whether they receive a complaint from an individual. Stephen M. Dane, Sara K. Pratt, and Laura J. Gaztambide-Arandes, of Relman, Dane & Colfax, PLLC, a Washington, DC-based law firm that specializes in civil rights litigation, are representing the plaintiffs.
The lawsuit alleges that Metro Development and other defendants have made dwellings unavailable to people with physical disabilities in violation of the federal Fair Housing Act, (FHA), 42 U.S.C. § 3604(f)(1), and/or have discriminated against them in the terms, conditions, or privileges of the rental of dwellings in violation of the FHA, 42 U.S.C. § 3604(f)(2) and that the existing features at the subject properties do not comply with the FHA Accessibility Guidelines or with any other accessibility standard recognized by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
The complaint further alleges that both COFHA and MVFHC have been directly and substantially injured by the violations through a diversion of significant and scarce resources for the organizations and frustration of the organizations’ missions.
The suit asks the court to declare that Metro Development and other defendants have violated the federal Fair Housing Act; seeks a permanent injunction enjoining the defendants from failing or refusing to:
The lawsuit also seeks compensatory and punitive damages for both Central Ohio Fair Housing Association and Miami Valley Fair Housing Center, plus all attorney fees, costs, and expenses.
Fair Housing groups around the country demand Westchester enforcement
COFHA joins with nine other groups in calling for full enforcement of decree
June 14, 2016 — In papers filed today in Federal District Court in the Southern District of New York, the Central Ohio Fair Housing Association (COFHA) joined with nine other civil rights from across the country in urging the Court to consider fully the facts and perspective brought to the Court’s attention in a May 11th letter from the Anti-Discrimination Center (ADC). Pointing out that the failure to enforce the consent decree against Westchester County will embolden others across the country to perpetuate segregation, the groups asked the Court to order the robust remedies sought by ADC.
In addition to COFHA, the groups filing the papers are: Disability Law Center, Enhanced Section 8 Outreach Program, ERASE Racism, Fair Housing Center of Central Indiana, Fair Housing Center of the Greater Palm Beaches, Fair Housing Council of Orange Country, Inclusive Communities Project, Miami Valley Fair Housing Center, and National Fair Housing Alliance.
COFHA and the other groups, except for Enhanced Section 8 Outreach Program, are represented by Mariann Meier Wang, a partner in the law firm Cuti Hecker Wang. Enhanced Section 8 Outreach Program is represented by its General Counsel, Jerrold M. Levy.
The groups thank COFHA President/CEO Jim McCarthy for his leadership in this matter.
Fair Housing Act Design and Construction Requirements
Nearly all covered multifamily dwellings constructed after March 13, 1991, are required to include seven design and construction accessibility features. The Fair Housing Act applies to both private sector and federally funded housing, and its requirements are separate from those found in the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
The seven design and construction accessibility requirements follow. The text for each is taken directly from the “7 Design & Construction Requirements” flyer distributed by Fair Housing Accessibility First.
More information about these design and construction accessibility requirements, including specific information about the requirements, codes, “safe harbors,” common violations, training, technical guidance, and support may be found at the Fair Housing Accessibility First website or by calling toll-free (888) 341-7781 (V/TTY).
Fair Housing Month Observed in Central Ohio
In honor of Fair Housing Month, ten central Ohio jurisdictions have proclaimed April to be "Fair Housing Month" locally. We sincerely appreciate the cities of Bexley, Dublin, Gahanna, Grove City, Groveport, Hilliard, New Albany, Pickerington, Westerville, and Whitehall for showing their support of equal housing opportunity this month through their proclamations and all year through their work to affirmatively further fair housing in central Ohio.
Visit COFHA at the Columbus Home Improvement Show
April 13, 2015 — The Central Ohio Fair Housing Association will be exhibiting at the Columbus Home Improvement Show on April 15–17 at the Greater Columbus Convention Center. Stop by booth #443 for information about Fair Housing for consumers and professionals, as well as upcoming educational opportunities.
Outreach and Education Services Offered by the Central Ohio Fair Housing Association
The mission of the Central Ohio Fair Housing Association is “to eliminate housing discrimination and ensure equal housing opportunity for all people in our region.” We work to accomplish this by offering a variety of outreach and educational services in addition to our work assisting victims of housing discrimination. COFHA staff has been engaged in community outreach and education for the past two years in metropolitan Columbus.
Our educational programming is designed for both the community and for housing professionals. Our community programming includes:
COFHA’s professional programming includes:
Staff is always available to assist people who encounter housing discrimination. We listen to your experience, evaluate your case, and inform you of your rights and options. If you suspect that you have experienced housing discrimination, please contact COFHA immediately.
For more information about COFHA’s education and outreach programming or to report suspected housing discrimination, call us at 614-344-HOME (4663) or email Thom Curnutte at email@example.com.
Visit COFHA at the Build, Remodel & Landscape Expo
The Central Ohio Fair Housing Association will be exhibiting at the Build, Remodel & Landscape Expo on January 15–17 at the Greater Columbus Convention Center. Stop by our booth to talk to COFHA Fair Housing Specialist Thom Curnutte about Fair Housing for consumers and professionals as well as upcoming educational opportunities.
End homelessness now by funding the National Housing Trust Fund
United for Homes campaign proposes modifications to the mortgage interest deduction to fund affordable housing
The Central Ohio Fair Housing Association is among the more than 2,200 national, state and local organizations and local governments who have endorsed United for Homes, a campaign organized by the National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC) that advocates funding the National Housing Trust Fund with revenue raised from modifications to the mortgage interest deduction.
Washington Post endorses mortgage deduction changes
In a November 29 editorial titled “Fixing the most expensive tax deduction,” the Washington Post editorial board endorses NLIHC’s proposals on reforming the mortgage deduction.
The Post notes that “the mortgage interest deduction is also a significant cause of after-tax income inequality” and that “the $1 million cap could be lowered to a still-generous $500,000 without affecting the vast majority of home buyers.”
The editorial also says, “Replacing [the deduction] with a 15 percent tax credit would save $213 billion — and better target homeownership support to buyers of modest means.”
The National Housing Trust Fund expands the housing supply for the lowest income and most vulnerable people in our country by preserving, rehabilitating and maintaining affordable rental housing. Yet with its current resources the Fund cannot meet demand. For every 100 extremely low income renter households in the United States, there are only 30 affordable and available units, and the shortage keeps getting worse.
United for Homes proposes two simple and smart changes to the mortgage interest deduction:
Not only would these changes create almost $230 billion in revenue over ten years that could be used to fund the National Housing Trust Fund, but they would also enable more homeowners to get a tax break. Currently only taxpayers who file itemized tax returns get the mortgage deduction (about 24% of all taxpayers). By implementing these changes another 16 million taxpayers would a mortgage credit without having to use the more complicated tax form.
Americans want a fairer tax code, and Americans want to end homelessness. We encourage you to visit UnitedForHomes.org to learn about the campaign, in particular about H.R. 1662, the Common Sense Housing Investment Act of 2015.
Transportation workshop will explain ADA rights and responsibilities
Tuesday, December 1 — 6:30pm–8:00pm
The Center for Disability Empowerment (CDE) is providing an advocacy workshop for any person with any disability as well as for friends and family about the rights provided under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) related to accessible transportation. The workshop will be held Tuesday, December 1st from 6:30pm–8:00pm at the Worthington Public Library, 820 High Street, Worthington.
Download a flyer for the workshop (PDF)
The workshop will teach you:
COFHA’s Fair Housing Specialist, Thom Curnutte, will talk briefly during the workshop about the intersection of transportation and housing and in particular about how the ADA and Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) apply.
To register for this workshop, contact CDE by calling 614-575-8055 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you require an accommodation (sign language interpretation, captioning, notetaking, materials in an alternate format, etc.), please let CDE know by November 24 to give them adequate time to prepare.
207 groups call on House and Senate leaders to reject
|When:||Friday, March 13th, 12 pm-7 pm|
|Saturday, March 14th, 10 am-7 pm|
|Sunday, March 15th, 10 am-5 pm|
|Where:||The Battelle Grand Ballroom at the Greater Columbus Convention Center|
Gustavo Velasquez, the Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development will present the keynote address at Miami Valley Fair Housing Center’s annual Fair Housing Month to be held Thursday, April 2, 2015 at the Sinclair Conference Center in Dayton.
This year’s event, presented in conjunction with the Dayton Area Board of REALTORS®, will focus on the theme “Fostering Inclusive Communities Strengthens the Housing Market.” The event includes educational workshops approved for continuing education for REALTORS® and other housing professionals, followed by a luncheon and the keynote presentation.
Joseph LMS Green
G Yamazawa March 9, 2015 — Miami Valley Fair Housing will host two internationally-renowned spoken word artists as part of the annual Fair Housing Month celebration being held from 11:45 am to 2 pm on Thursday, April 2, 2015 at Sinclair Conference Center in Dayton. The spoken word artists will perform after the luncheon meal.
Both performers—G Yamazawa and Joseph LMS Green—were winners of the first-ever National Fair Housing Alliance (NFHA) 1K Poetry Slam, held last April in Washington DC. G Yamazawa was the first place winner, and Joseph LMS Green won second place. Both G and Joseph LMS will be performing the pieces with which they won the NFHA event.
Gustavo Velasquez, the Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, will be the keynote speaker at the event. Buy tickets for the luncheon event by registering on MVFHC’s Fair Housing Month page.
Born in Durham, NC and raised by Japanese immigrants, George Masao Yamazawa, Jr. is widely considered one of the top young spoken word artists in the country. At 24 years old, G is the youngest poet to become a National Poetry Slam Champion, Individual World Poetry Slam Finalist, and Southern Fried Champion, and he has toured in over 40 American cities and 5 European countries.
Winner of Kollaboration DC 2012, Audience Choice Award Recipient of the Inaugural Kollaboration Star and 2013 Kundiman Fellow, G has been featured at the Sundance Film Festival, Bonnaroo Music Festival, TV One's Season 3 of Verses and Flow, the Pentagon, and the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. G’s poetry has been published in Beltway Quarterly, Asian Fortune Magazine, and 27 Views of Durham, and he has shared stages with Sonia Sanchez, Michelle Kwan, Danny Glover, and VP Joe Biden.
Joseph LMS Green is a Washington, DC-based performance artist and educator with more than nine years’ professional experience. As a solo artist Joseph LMS has performed at venues and schools throughout the United States. A four-time qualifier and participant in the National Poetry Slam, he has represented the Oneonta Slam team as their Grand Slam Champion (twice, 2005 and 2006), as well as Slam Richmond (2009), and DC’s Beltway Poetry Slam Team (2011, ranked 5th in the nation). As the Beltway Poetry Slam representative at the Individual World Poetry Slam (2011), Joseph is currently the 16th-ranked poet in the world.
January 9, 2015 — If hearing the name “Romney” makes you think of the 2012 Republican nominee for president, perhaps you don’t remember that Mitt’s father George Romney was HUD secretary during President Nixon’s administration.
In 1974 HUD Secretary Romney was party to a case against the city of Black Jack, Missouri, which relied on a federal rule stating that a disparate impact claim of action existed under the Fair Housing Act. United States v. City of Black Jack was appealed in the Eight Circuit, and that circuit and ten other federal circuits have agreed that disparate impact is covered under the Fair Housing Act.
In the article “Romney was Right About Disparate Impact” on SCOTUSblog, Myron Orfield, professor of law and director of the Institute on Metropolitan Opportunity at the University of Minnesota, explains George Romney’s and the Nixon HUD department’s position on disparate impact. Orfield also gives more about the history and importance of disparate impact in fair housing and explains why the Supreme Court should and, he thinks, will uphold it.
Read the whole article on SCOTUSblog.
November 12, 2014 — The Miami Valley Fair Housing Center (MVFHC), the Connecticut Fair Housing Center (CFHC), and the Fair Housing Center of Central Indiana (FHCCI) announced that they have filed a fair housing complaint against TGM Associates, a New York-based property management company that owns and operates apartment complexes throughout the United States. The groups allege that TGM has engaged in systemic discrimination against families with children across five properties evaluated in three states.
“It’s been over 20 years since the federal Fair Housing Act was amended to protect families from discrimination,” said Amy Nelson, FHCCI’s executive director. “It’s disappointing and frustrating that we still find housing providers enacting written policies to prevent families with children from enjoying their right to equal housing.”
In the filed complaint, TGM Associates is alleged to have a stated occupancy standard of no more than two people per bedroom in each apartment, regardless of the unit’s square footage or whether that unit has a den, office, loft, or other feature that could provide an additional bedroom or living area for a child. TGM enforces this policy without regard to local health codes that state the square footage required for each occupant. In every property evaluated by the fair housing groups, TGM was found to have denied housing to families with children despite the apartments having ample square footage allowed by local codes for the family size.
MVFHC, CFHC, and FHCCI conducted a joint systemic investigation into the five TGM properties located in their respective states. The complaint alleges that every apartment complex that was evaluated was found to have unlawfully refused to rent units to families with children. Such overly restrictive occupancy standards impact the ability of families with children to find affordable, safe housing in neighborhoods of their choice.
“Often, investigations into housing discrimination uncover subtle and difficult to detect unlawful behavior,” stated Erin Kemple, CFHC’s executive director. “Each test performed at a TGM property, however, ended in a clear and blatant statement from an employee that a family with children was not permitted to rent the unit that they had inquired about. This is not only unacceptable; it’s illegal.”
The properties named in the complaint are TGM Waterford Commons in Manchester, Connecticut; TGM Avalon Lake, TGM Shadeland Station, and TGM Autumn Woods in Indianapolis, Indiana; and TGM Meadow View in Columbus, Ohio.
“Where a family lives dictates the parents’ access to employment, the children’s access to good schools, and the family’s access to grocery stores, healthcare, and other vital services,” said Jim McCarthy, MVFHC’s president and CEO. “TGM Associates’ refusal to rent to families with children is a deliberate denial of their right to choose the community that best serves their needs.”
October 15, 2014 — Through its Fair Housing Initiatives Program, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has awarded a $125,000 education and outreach grant to the Central Ohio Fair Housing Association. This one-year grant will run through December 2015.
This grant, the first FHIP funding for COFHA, will enable the new private fair housing agency to expand its education efforts in the Columbus MSA, focusing on the urban core. COFHA will provide education instruction people how to recognize housing discrimination and how to report it to the Ohio Civil Rights Commission and/or to HUD. In addition, COFHA will provide education to housing providers on their rights and responsibilities under the Fair Housing Act.
HUD has more information about the FY2014 FHIP grants on its website.
August 25, 2014 — The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) announced that Massillon, Ohio landlords John and Mary Ruth have agreed to pay $850,000 to settle lawsuits filed by DOJ and other parties alleging that the Ruths discriminated on the bases of race and familial status at properties they formerly owned in Massillon.
DOJ filed a lawsuit on October 31, 2011, alleging that the Ruths and the companies through which they manage their properties had discriminated against African Americans and families with children at Yorkshire Apartments, Thackeray Ledges and Wales Ridge—three apartment complexes in Massillon. Stark County, the Ohio Civil Rights Commission and several former property managers and tenants at the complexes also filed related lawsuits raising similar allegations.
In an order issued on March 31, 2014, by U.S. District Judge John R. Adams, the court noted that 10 of Mr. Ruth’s former employees testified they were instructed to discriminate against African Americans and that other former employees testified they had been instructed to discriminate against families with children. The court ruled that DOJ had presented sufficient evidence of a pattern or practice of unlawful discrimination by the defendants for the case to go to trial.
Under the terms of the settlement, the defendants will pay:
For more information, read the DOJ press release.
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