Fair Housing vs. Unfair Housing

Do you know the difference?

Knowing the difference between fair housing and unfair housing isn't as obvious as you might think. This blog aims to present a variety of important and interesting fair housing issues.

If you're an apartment professional, avoid costly mistakes by reading the stories of others who — even with good intentions — learned compliance lessons the hard way. (For the easy way, click here.)

If you live in an apartment, get familiar with your rights when it comes to housing discrimination, as well as your options for seeking justice.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Making Them Pay for Making Them Pay

The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) last week announced that a Methuen, Massachusetts condominium has agreed to settle charges of housing discrimination based on familial status. According to the DOJ press release, the condominium will pay $130,000 to the victims and $20,000 in civil penalties, and its board members will undergo mandatory training on aspects of the Fair Housing Act.

The DOJ claims that the condominium fined families with children (both condo owners and renters) more than $500 after kids played wiffle ball, tag, and other games in the outdoor common areas — but not from other residents (without children) for recreational use of the same common areas. In addition, the complaint states that the condominium retaliated against one mother for filing a discrimination complaint by charging her $1,000 to cover the costs of hiring an attorney to defend against that complaint.

The proposed consent decree will take effect pending approval by the federal district court.

Fair Housing Accessibility FIRST Services Suspended Pending Contract Negotiation

Since the beginning of last month, all services associated with Fair Housing Accessibility FIRST, an initiative sponsored by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), have been suspended pending HUD's negotiation of a new contract, according to a note on the initiative's Web site. Since 2003, the initiative has pursued a mission of promoting compliance with the Fair Housing Act's design and construction requirements.

The initiative's instructional programs and its toll-free information line for technical guidance and support are currently not operational. However, visitors to the Web site, fairhousingfirst.org, will be happy to note that the site's collection of useful links, informative documents, and other helpful information regarding accessibility remains online.

The site also notes that Deloitte Consulting has stopped being a point of contact as of October 1, due to contract expiration. Deloitte had assumed this role from BearingPoint in May 2009.

If you've used any of the Fair Housing Accessibility FIRST initiative's services, did you find them useful? Have you ever visited the initiative's Web site to get answers or clarification on housing accessibility and design issues?

Guest Blogging for MyNewPlace.com

I am pleased to announce that I recently became a guest blogger for MyNewPlace.com, one of the leading apartment and home rentals Web sites in the United States. If you visit mynewplace.com/blog, you can find my entry posted at the beginning of each month.

My first guest blog entry (posted November 1, 2010), entitled, "Why Read About Apartment Living?" takes a look at the five ways apartment hunters and dwellers who add apartment living resources to their daily or weekly reading can benefit.

I look forward to writing more posts in upcoming months exploring a wide range of apartment-related issues, including fair housing.

In the meantime, if you've got an idea for a topic, I'm happy to hear it! Please leave a comment.