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.


Friday, April 30, 2010

Fair Housing Month: Compliance Training for Multifamily Professionals

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Too often, good landlords, property managers, and other multifamily professionals are unfairly accused of housing discrimination when they did nothing wrong. Other times, housing professionals with the best of intentions make costly mistakes that could have been avoided with a greater understanding of fair housing compliance.

Fair Housing Helper addresses these situations with an online fair housing compliance training program aimed at helping multifamily professionals avoid violations — so they can focus their time and money on growing their business.

Fair Housing Month may be coming to an end, but compliance concerns last all year round. Sign up (with no obligation) at fairhousinghelper.com to be among the first to learn about the new training when it launches and receive special notification of savings.

That wraps up this special "Fair Housing Month" feature at Fairhousingblog.com. Hopefully, you found the series interesting and thought-provoking. You can read the press release for more information, if you wish, or access all blog posts in this series.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Fair Housing Month: Why Not Everyone Is Celebrating

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It's Fair Housing Month, but not everyone is celebrating. There's no question that the Fair Housing Act (FHA) has proven itself over the past 42 years as a landmark piece of legislation that has helped thousands of victims of illegal housing discrimination across the United States. But, even after two significant amendments, the FHA protects people based on only seven protected classes — race, color, religion, national origin, sex, disability, and familial status.

If you think that covers a lot of situations, you're right. But many individuals, advocacy groups, and politicians argue that the law doesn't go far enough. Several states, cities, and towns have succeeded in extending fair housing protection by including additional protected classes in their own anti-discrimination laws, such as:
  • sexual orientation;
  • age;
  • marital status;
  • source of income;
  • military status;
  • personal appearance; and
  • political affiliation.
(For a scrollable list of additional protected classes in the 50 states plus the District of Columbia, check out the "Protected Classes Tool" at fairhousingresources.com.)

Do you believe the FHA should be amended to include additional protected classes? If so, which protected classes would you like to see added? How fair is fair housing if many types of housing discrimination are still legal under federal law?

What do you think?

Return tomorrow for the thirtieth and final part of this special "Fair Housing Month" feature at Fairhousingblog.com.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Fair Housing Month: HUD or DOJ?

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Do you believe that a landlord or other party has violated your rights under the Fair Housing Act (FHA)? If so, you can try suing the offender in federal or state court. Or, as I blogged last week, you may prefer the easier, less expensive option known as the administrative route, which involves having the federal government pursue your claim on your behalf.

The federal agency responsible for investigating the facts and handling your claim is the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). If HUD determines there's reasonable cause to believe you've been disriminated against, your case will normally be heard by an impartial HUD administrative law judge. However, if you or the other party prefers, your dispute may be litigated in federal court, in which case the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) will file the complaint on your behalf.

The DOJ also has the authority to sue parties who may be engaged in a "pattern or practice" of discrimination, or where a denial of rights to a group of people raises an important public issue.

Return tomorrow for the twenty-ninth part of this special "Fair Housing Month" feature at Fairhousingblog.com.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Fair Housing Month: Download Free HUD Fair Housing Brochures

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The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) offers two useful and informative brochures to help the public understand their rights under the Fair Housing Act (FHA).

If you're not familiar with the FHA or you could use a refresher, why not take a moment of this Fair Housing Month to look these over?
  • The first brochure, "Equal Opportunity for All," covers all the basics in 17 pages, including an outline of what the FHA bans as well as its additional protections for families with children and people with disabilities, the complaint process, and the role of HUD and the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ).

  • The second brochure, "Are You a Victim of Housing Discrimination?" takes you step by step through completing the form to file a fair housing complaint with HUD. At the end, you'll also find a handy bulleted summary of how the FHA protects you.
Return tomorrow for the twenty-eighth part of this special "Fair Housing Month" feature at Fairhousingblog.com.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Fair Housing Month: Take Our Fair Housing Month Poll

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Since the Fair Housing Act (FHA) was signed into law 42 years ago, it has gotten stronger, thanks to amendments and other government actions. Most notably, the number of protected classes has nearly doubled (from four to seven), people who believe they're the victims of violations have greater enforcement options at their disposal, and potential awards are no longer as limited as they once were.

What would you say is the most significant legislative accomplishment to follow the FHA's passage in 1968? Submit your answer by taking our Fair Housing Month poll (see the right-hand side of this page, toward the bottom). Also, feel free to leave any additional comments you may have here.

Thanks in advance for participating!

Return tomorrow for the twenty-seventh part of this special "Fair Housing Month" feature at Fairhousingblog.com.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Fair Housing Month: Learn the Lingo

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Do you know what "steering" means? How about "blockbusting"? What's the difference between "accessibility" and "visitability"?

As housing discrimination issues have evolved over the past 42 years since the enactment of the Fair Housing Act (FHA), several words have emerged that you'll often hear in speeches or conversations, or read in texts about fair housing.

Here are two online fair housing glossaries you can use to get familiar with the definitions of common industry terms:
  1. "Fair Housing Glossary," by the Idaho Fair Housing Forum, a coalition of stakeholders cooperating and collaborating to provide education and outreach opportunities through the state.

  2. "Fair Housing Glossary of Terms," by the
    Interfaith Housing Center of the Northern Suburbs, a membership-based, non-profit organization fostering open communities in north suburban Chicago since 1972.
Return tomorrow for the twenty-sixth part of this special "Fair Housing Month" feature at Fairhousingblog.com.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Fair Housing Month: Charlotte Volunteers 'Trade Blackberrys for Toolboxes'

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The Charlotte Regional Realtor Association hosted its second annual Realtors® Care Day yesterday, coinciding with both Fair Housing Month and National Volunteer Week. An initiative of the Charlotte Regional Realtor® Association Housing Opportunity Foundation, this all-day, community-wide home-repair project reaches out to homeowners with critical maintenance needs each year.

According to the Association's Web site, Realtors® Care Day was created out of a desire to help people whose financial situation has prevented them from being able to keep up with the upkeep:
"Faced with economic challenges not seen in at least a generation, many over-extended homeowners are forced to choose between paying their mortgage payment or performing basic repairs. While it is impossible to help everyone, we can make a significant impact on our community's elderly and disabled, and others living in unsafe or substandard conditions. Realtors® will be the helping hands that these homeowners desperately need."
At last year's inaugural event, the Association reports that over 600 volunteers made improvements to 33 homes, providing an estimated over $250,000 worth of home repairs and adaptive or safety modifications for elderly and disabled residents.

Return tomorrow for the twenty-fifth part of this special "Fair Housing Month" feature at Fairhousingblog.com.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Fair Housing Month: What to Consider Before Pursuing a Fair Housing Claim

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A few days ago, I blogged about how easy and inexpensive it is these days to pursue a fair housing complaint against a landlord, property manager, or other housing professional whom you believe has discriminated against you.

But before you rush to file a complaint, take a moment to think about what you're about to do. Formally accusing someone of violating a federal law such as the Fair Housing Act (FHA) is serious business. Not only should you feel confident that you have a strong case, but you'll also want to know that you're mentally and emotionally prepared to see the case through to its end, even if the result turns out to be unfavorable.

Find out what issues you should consider before filing by reading my article, "Before You File a Fair Housing Claim" for About.com.

Return tomorrow for the twenty-fourth part of this special "Fair Housing Month" feature at Fairhousingblog.com.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Fair Housing Month: April Is Also National Sexual Assault Awareness Month

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On April 1, President Obama signed a proclamation making April National Sexual Assault Awareness Month, a time to "recommit ourselves not only to lifting the veil of secrecy and shame surrounding sexual violence, but also to raising awareness, expanding support for victims, and strengthening our response."

It's fitting that National Sexual Assault Awareness Month coincides with Fair Housing Month because sexual assault or harrassment is a form of sex discrimination, which the Fair Housing Act (FHA) bans.

For a recent example, just look at today's announcement by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) about a complaint it filed yesterday against a New York City apartment building super and landlord.

The super allegedly sexually harrassed many female tenants at three apartment buildings over a period of years. According to the complaint, the super engaged in sex-based discrimination through his:
  • unwanted verbal sexual advances, such as repeatedly soliciting sexual favors in exchange for reduced rent;
  • unwanted sexual touching, such as grabbing;
  • unwanted sexual language, including yelling obscenities to female tenants who didn't comply with sexual demands;
  • conditioning the terms of tenancy on the granting of sexual favors;
  • attempting to enter tenants' apartments while inebriated, demanding sex;
  • granting and denying tangible housing benefits (such as mail delivery and making repairs) based on sex; and
  • taking adverse action (such as threatening eviction) against female tenants who refused or objected to his sexual advances.
The landlord was also named in the lawsuit for having allegedly been aware of the super's sexual harrassment and not having taken "any meaningful steps" to investigate his tenants' multiple complaints of sexual harrassment. The DOJ also identifies the super as a registered Level 3 (high-risk) sex offender in the complaint.

The super and the landlord must now defend themselves in court against the DOJ, which seeks monetary damages, civil penalties, punitive damages, and injunctive relief.

Return tomorrow for the twenty-third part of this special "Fair Housing Month" feature at Fairhousingblog.com.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Fair Housing Month: Third Announced HUD Charge Highlights Accessibility Battle

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Many tenants who have physical disabilities need accommodations, modifications, or both to get full use and enjoyment of their housing. When tenants make accommodation or modification requests, landlords must take them seriously and grant them if they're reasonable. Landlords who deny tenants' reasonable requests may face charges for violating the Fair Housing Act's (FHA) ban on disability-based discrimination.

That's what just happened to housing providers in Miami, Florida. According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's (HUD) third announced charge of Fair Housing Month, when a double-amputee veteran requested modifications to his apartment or a transfer to an accessible apartment, he allegedly was refused.

The tenant then contacted the county commissioner's office, which got the landlord to allow a transfer. However, the new apartment wasn't accessible either, and when the tenant moved back to his original apartment, he now found it was missing a stove.

The landlord, unhappy with the fact the tenant got the local government involved, allegedly threatened eviction, leading the tenant to pursue a fair housing complaint with HUD.

The landlord and management company will now need to defend themselves against the charge before a HUD administrative law judge.

Return tomorrow for the twenty-second part of this special "Fair Housing Month" feature at Fairhousingblog.com.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Fair Housing Month: How to Pursue a Fair Housing Claim

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Things have changed since the Fair Housing Act (FHA) was signed into law 42 years ago. Today, people who believe they're the victims of illegal housing discrimination have more options when it comes to pursuing a claim and seeking justice.

If you wish to file a complaint against a landlord, property manager, or other party, the easiest and least expensive way is to go through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

HUD lets you file your complaint online (or by mail or phone, if you prefer), and you'll save time and money as well as the need to hire an attorney.

To find out exactly how this process works and what you should expect, read my article, "How to Pursue a Fair Housing Claim Against Your Landlord" for About.com.

Return tomorrow for the twenty-first part of this special "Fair Housing Month" feature at Fairhousingblog.com.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Fair Housing Month: DOJ Settles Two Familial Status Cases

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April's not yet over, but the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has so far settled two familial status cases this Fair Housing Month.

One case is in North Dakota and the other in Rhode Island, but both disputes involve parties that allegedly adopted a formal policy against providing housing to families with children, in clear violation of the Fair Housing Act (FHA).

In the North Dakota case, a condominium complex, unit owners, and a realtor refused to sell or rent to families with children under 14, according to the complaint dated September 8, 2009. The DOJ signed a partial consent order with the unit owners, dated April 8, 2010, in which they agree to pay $7,500 in damages to an aggrieved family and a $2,500 civil penalty.

In Rhode Island, the owner of a single-family house refused to rent to at least two families with children. According to the complaint, the owner even explained to an investigator from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) that she "has the right not to rent to families with children." In signing a consent order, also dated April 8, 2010, the owner now agrees to pay $9,500 in damages to two single mothers who were turned away because of their children.

Return tomorrow for the twentieth part of this special "Fair Housing Month" feature at Fairhousingblog.com.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Fair Housing Month: Remembering Rev. Benjamin L. Hooks

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On April 15, Rev. Benjamin L. Hooks passed away at age 85, leaving behind a legacy of civil rights achievements that spanned a six-decade career.

Among other accomplishments, Rev. Hooks became the first black judge to sit on the bench of a Tennessee state court since Reconstruction. He was also the first black commissioner of the Federal Communications Commission, and he served for 15 years as the executive director of the NAACP. More recently, in 2007, he received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President George W. Bush.

Rev. Hooks' passing in the middle of Fair Housing Month is interesting, considering how much he contributed to fighting housing discrimination across the United States. According to a press release from The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, Rev. Hooks helped achieve several key legislative successes while serving as chair, among them the Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988, which strengthened fair housing enforcement and added disability and familial status as protected classes.

Return tomorrow for the nineteenth part of this special "Fair Housing Month" feature at Fairhousingblog.com.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Fair Housing Month: Another Year, Another Step

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Three years ago, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) used Fair Housing Month as an opportunity to reflect on the many steps the United States has taken toward achieving housing equality since the Fair Housing Act (FHA) became law in 1968.

In its brochure, "39 Steps Toward Fair Housing," HUD presents a concise timeline of key issues, cases, developments and achievements that have shaped the path since the FHA's birth (with one step for each year through 2007).

If nothing else, this brief publication reminds us that the FHA wasn't just the end of a long, difficult chapter, but the beginning of a new era that's not without its own set of struggles and challenges.

Return tomorrow for the eighteenth part of this special "Fair Housing Month" feature at Fairhousingblog.com.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Fair Housing Month: Raising Children's Fair Housing Awareness

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Each year, many children across the United States experience housing discrimination or witness it occurring in their community.

For example, a child who wants to live in a certain apartment complex but then learns that her parents can't rent there because they have a kid may get upset and even feel guilty. A landlord who steers minority applicants to a certain building in a complex may cause a child to wonder why his friend can't live in one of the vacant apartments on his floor.

To help raise children's awareness and understanding of fair housing, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has created Franklin "The Fair Housing Fox," who offers some answers to questions that may be on children's minds.

If you have kids, consider using Fair Housing Month as an opportunity to show them "10 Things Franklin Wants You to Know."

Return tomorrow for the seventeenth part of this special "Fair Housing Month" feature at Fairhousingblog.com.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Fair Housing Month: Second Announced HUD Charge Spotlights Adoption Rights

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Tenants who adopt or plan to adopt a child are protected under the Fair Housing Act's (FHA) ban on familial status discrimination. If you didn't know that, read about the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's (HUD) second announced charge of Fair Housing Month.

When a single mother renting an apartment outside Philadelphia decided to adopt an 11-year-old boy, her landlords allegedly responded by terminating her tenancy, according to HUD's April 15 release. This caused the family to move far away, denying the boy his school, friends, and aunts whom he visited regularly.

Charged with discrimination, the landlords will need to defend their actions in front of a HUD administrative law judge and possibly face thousands of dollars in damages.

Return tomorrow for the sixteenth part of this special "Fair Housing Month" feature at Fairhousingblog.com.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Fair Housing Month: Celebrating by Accommodating

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The City of Cambridge, Ohio is commemorating Fair Housing Month by taking action to help make the city more accessible for people with disabilities.

According to a report from WHIZ News, the city's Economic and Community Development Department and Engineer are working on grant-funded projects such as repairing weather-damaged sidewalks across the city that have been rendered unusable for many people with mobility impairments.

The city reportedly aims to finish the improvement projects within the year.

Return tomorrow for the fifteenth part of this special "Fair Housing Month" feature at Fairhousingblog.com.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Fair Housing Month: A Poster's Worth a Thousand Words

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Visually capturing the concepts behind equal housing opportunity in a poster has become a popular Fair Housing Month tradition. Many counties, cities, government agencies, schools, and advocacy groups have sponsored Fair Housing Month poster contests or have designed their own to mark the occasion.

The National Association of Realtors® (NAR) has created a Fair Housing Month poster for 2010 that reads, "Your Community Is a Reflection of You: Reflect on the Value of Fair Housing." The imagery is of a diverse neighborhood, creatively revealed from the perspective of a reflection off mirrored sunglasses on a close-up face.

Check out the poster and see how many protected classes you can identify.

To view past years' Fair Housing Month posters from NAR, visit NAR's Fair Housing Resources page.

Return tomorrow for the fourteenth part of this special "Fair Housing Month" feature at Fairhousingblog.com.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Fair Housing Month: Watch HUD's Fair Housing Month Video

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The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has produced a Fair Housing Month video for 2010. You can watch the video or download a transcript of the video's text as a Word document, courtesy of HUD.gov.

The five-minute video reflects HUD's theme for this year's Fair Housing Month, "Time to Act," and features John Trasviña, the Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity, addressing the American public about the current state of fair housing compliance and enforcement efforts.

Forty-two years after the passage of the Fair Housing Act (FHA), Mr. Trasviña says that "the fight to end housing discrimination continues," noting that his office as well as state and local partners receive over 10,000 fair housing complaints each year.

"We have a great deal of work to do," he concludes, including making sure that people across the United States "know their rights and responsibilities."

Return tomorrow for the thirteenth part of this special "Fair Housing Month" feature at Fairhousingblog.com.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Fair Housing Month: 42 Years Ago Today

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It was 42 years ago today when President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1968 into law. Title VIII, commonly known as the Fair Housing Act (FHA), has since enjoyed the distinction of being the primary vehicle through which to seek redress for harm suffered as a result of housing discrimination violations across the United States.

Decades later, it can feel easy to take the FHA and its discrimination bans for granted. But the FHA went on the books at the peak of a turbulent period in American history, and the path toward adopting comprehensive anti-discrimination legislation in the housing arena was a hard-fought battle that involved several generations.

Remember this historic day and its origins by taking a moment to read a "History of Fair Housing," courtesy of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

Return tomorrow for the twelfth part of this special "Fair Housing Month" feature at Fairhousingblog.com.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Fair Housing Month: Baltimore Boot Camp Offers Training and Information Exchange

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Baltimore Neighborhoods, Inc. (BNI) plans to honor Fair Housing Month with a free "Rental Fair Housing Boot Camp" a week from this Tuesday morning, April 20, at the Baltimore City War Memorial Building. The event, hosted in partnership with several government agencies, aims to keep property managers, fair housing advocates, and other industry professionals current by reviewing fair housing laws as well as topics such as how to file a complaint, common fair housing violations and how to avoid them, popular fair housing misconceptions, and more.

The presentation, which will feature a range of speakers from the public and private sector, will conclude with a "Resource Fair," in which attendees will have the opportunity to exchange materials they own related to fair housing, housing advocacy or programs, tenant and landlord services, and social services.

For more information about the Boot Camp, including a schedule and registration, visit BNI's Events page. Note the registration deadline is this Wednesday, April 14.

Return tomorrow for the eleventh part of this special "Fair Housing Month" feature at Fairhousingblog.com.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Fair Housing Month: Just How Much Do You Know?

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What better time than Fair Housing Month to test your knowledge of fair housing law? Several Web sites offer quizzes designed to test your knowledge of the Fair Housing Act (FHA) and related issues.

Here's a sampling of these quizzes. Try them out and see how well you do. Good luck!
  1. HUD's Fair Housing Quiz. This 10-question quiz from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is based on a national survey of American adults nine years ago that sought to assess public awareness of and support for fair housing law. The questions are in the true-false format, and you'll find the answer key at the bottom of the page. Take this quiz.

  2. FHRC's Fair Housing Quiz. The Fair Housing Rights Center of Southeastern Pennsylvania (FHRC) offers 14 true-false questions on a range of topics. Answers with helpful explanations follow the questions on the page. Take this quiz.

  3. FHCO's Fair Housing Quiz. The Fair Housing Council of Oregon's (FHCO) quiz reels you in by asking you to decide whether the "Fair" Housing Act is indeed fair. The answer is interesting and might not be what you expect. As you proceed through the nine questions of this true-false quiz, you'll find more helpful explanations along with each answer. Take this quiz.
Return tomorrow for the tenth part of this special "Fair Housing Month" feature at Fairhousingblog.com.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Fair Housing Month: First Announced HUD Charge Covers Most FHA Protected Classes

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Yesterday, I blogged about how the Fair Housing Act (FHA) protects people against housing discrimination based on seven so-called "protected classes." In the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's (HUD) first announced charge of Fair Housing Month, a King County, Washington landlord, property management company, and on-site manger will face an administrative law judge to defend themselves against alleged violations of four of the FHA's seven protected classes: race, color, national origin, and familial status.

According to HUD's Charge of Discrimination, issued on April 1 and announced on April 6, the owners and managers allegedly engaged in a pattern of unfair treatment of blacks, Hispanics, Asian-Americans, and families with children at their five-building apartment complex in Renton.

Testers at the property allegedly revealed that the manager:
  • offered the same apartment at a higher rent to black and Hispanic testers than to a white tester;
  • offered earlier availability dates and apartments with newer amenities to white testers as compared to black testers;
  • asked Hispanic applicants if they illegally purchased Social Security cards or green cards;
  • made several discriminatory statements to minority testers, including telling a black tester that she wouldn't tolerate loud parties or "weed smoking on the balcony" and that he was "one of the good ones" because he wears his pants "up on his buttocks";
  • said that children couldn't play ball, skateboard, or ride bicycles on the complex's grounds and would need to go to a park.
HUD's investigation also allegedly found evidence that the manager:
  • directed her staff to show minority applicants apartments with less desirable amenities, such as older carpet, countertops, and appliances;
  • steered minority applicants away from the building in which she lived;
  • banned her assistant from speaking Spanish to Hispanic applicants, saying, "No, no, no. None of that sh*t. We speak English here";
  • told one Asian-American tenant to "go back to India" if he can't use the appliances properly and said to another, "For God's sake, you come from a country with no running water and cook over an open flame."
Return tomorrow for the ninth part of this special "Fair Housing Month" feature at Fairhousingblog.com.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Fair Housing Month: What Are 'Protected Classes'?

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Fair Housing Month commemorates the passage of the Fair Housing Act (FHA), a law that protects people against housing discrimination based on certain characteristics, commonly known as "protected classes."

Today, the FHA, as amended, includes seven protected classes:
  • race
  • color
  • religion
  • national origin
  • sex
  • disability
  • familial status
What about other protected classes, such as sexual orientation? What's the difference between race and color? What does familial status cover, exactly?

Get the answers to these and other frequently asked questions on this topic by reading my "Protected Classes FAQ" for About.com.

Return tomorrow for the eighth part of this special "Fair Housing Month" feature at Fairhousingblog.com.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Fair Housing Month: Ohio Workshop Invites Attendees to Experience a Fair Housing Mock Trial

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The Miami Valley Fair Housing Center (MVFHC) and the Dayton Area Board of REALTORS® are planning an event this Thursday in Dayton, Ohio to celebrate Fair Housing Month that will include a luncheon, keynote speakers, award presentations, and a fair housing workshop. Rather than just explain what could happen as a result of alleged fair housing violations, participants will get a chance to observe and explore how things could play out, thanks to a mock trial format.

According to the MVFHC's Web site, here's how the mock trial will work:
  • It will be based in part on facts from an actual fair housing case.

  • It will examine one or more legal issues most commonly associated with fair housing compliance, such as steering, occupancy standards, and reasonable accommodation and modification request denials.

  • There will be a presiding judge, with community members and industry players taking on the roles of plaintiffs, defendants, and jurors.

  • All workshop attendees will have an opportunity to participate in the mock trial and ask questions about the issues that arise.

  • During jury deliberations, participants will engage in a discussion of real-life tricky situations, such as how housing professionals should respond to prospects' questions about a community's demographics.
If you're in the Miami Valley, Ohio area and wish to attend, see the Web page (cited above) for complete registration and event information.

Return tomorrow for the seventh part of this special "Fair Housing Month" feature at Fairhousingblog.com.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Fair Housing Month: Kentuckians to 'Get on the Bus' for Fair Housing

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Kentucky is honoring Fair Housing Month with a guided bus tour of Frankfort, scheduled for Wednesday, April 28 at 1 p.m. The tour, "Get on the Bus: The Path Toward Housing Opportunities," will focus on the history and impact of segregated housing in the twentieth century and will emphasize the historical and political climate that led to the passage of the Fair Housing Act (FHA) and Kentucky's own fair housing law.

According to a press release from event co-host Kentucky Housing Corporation (KHC), the "Get on the Bus" theme evokes the civil rights movement while "The Path Toward Housing Opportunities" reflects the public marches of the time, including one in Frankfort that fair housing advocate Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. led in 1964.

The Lexington Fair Housing Council and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) are co-hosting this event along with KHC.

To sign up for the tour, visit HUD's event page Web site or see the release (cited above) for additional contact information. The event is open to the public, but space is limited.

Return tomorrow for the sixth part of this special "Fair Housing Month" feature at Fairhousingblog.com.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Fair Housing Month: Riverside County Celebrates Fair Housing Month the 'Fair' Way

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Could there be a more fitting way to celebrate Fair Housing Month than with a fair?

The Fair Housing Council of Riverside County, Inc. is commemorating the Fair Housing Act (FHA) by hosting a Fair Housing Month Festival at its Riverside office, 3933 Mission Inn Ave., on Saturday, April 17. The event, which is open to the public, will offer free food, children's games, a fire engine, and booths with representatives from housing-related organizations.

Perhaps most enticing of all, however, is a free drawing for a prize worth $500 in rent plus one month's paid utility bills.

Return tomorrow for the fifth part of this special "Fair Housing Month" feature at Fairhousingblog.com.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Fair Housing Month: Colorado's Fair Housing Claim to Fame

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Colorado Governor Bill Ritter, Jr. is one of several government leaders to sign a proclamation declaring April 2010 to be "Fair Housing Month" in his state. In doing so, he noted "the great strides our state and nation have made toward breaking down barriers which impede the rights of all citizens."

If you study the proclamation, you'll notice that Mr. Ritter didn't wait until April to introduce the document (unlike the case with last year's proclamation), but had it signed, sealed, and delivered back on January 27.

The governor's early action on this matter is reminiscent of his state's own fair housing history. In 1959, Colorado became the first state to ban discrimination in private housing. So, by the time the United States caught up with the passage of the Fair Housing Act (FHA) in 1968, landlords in the Centennial State had already amassed nearly a decade of compliance experience.

Interesting to note:

Return tomorrow for the fourth part of this special "Fair Housing Month" feature at Fairhousingblog.com.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Fair Housing Month: HUD Declares 2010 a 'Time to Act'

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In a press release issued yesterday at the start of Fair Housing Month, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced that the theme for this year's activities is "Fair Housing in 2010: Time to Act," reflecting the "urgent need" to prevent housing discrimination across the United States.

John Trasviña, Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity at HUD, put it into historical context: "In the aftermath of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s assassination in April 1968, President Johnson moved for passage of the Fair Housing Act (FHA) to bring the nation forward and together," he said. "Since then, we have made progress but there remains work to be done. It is time to act."

Indeed, progress can be measured by the many apartment hunters, tenants, and others who, thanks to the passage of the FHA, received compensation after complaining of housing injustices. The subsequent amendments to the FHA adding sex, then disability and familial status as protected classes are also widely cited as progressive landmarks.

Assuming Mr. Trasviña is right, then just how much progress have we made since 1968, and how much work remains to be done?

What do you think?

Return tomorrow for the third part of this special "Fair Housing Month" feature at Fairhousingblog.com.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Fair Housing Month: Why April Is Fair Housing Month

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April is Fair Housing Month, and Fair Housing Blog by Fair Housing Helper is honoring the occasion by publishing a new post for each day of the month. Let's start this series with a few words on what Fair Housing Month is all about, and why it's April.

The Fair Housing Act (FHA) became law in April 1968, as Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968 (CRA). President Johnson made it official on April 11, one week after the assassination of civil rights icon Martin Luther King, Jr., who fought for equality in housing.

The FHA was considered landmark legislation, prohibiting many types of discriminatory acts regarding the sale, rental, and financing of housing based on race, color, religion, and national origin. The FHA has since been amended to add sex, disability, and familial status to the list of protected classes, as well as to strengthen the law's enforcement mechanism.

Since 1968, April has come to be regarded as a time to remember the FHA and reflect on the rights it gives citizens. Presidents of the United States and governors have issued proclamations over the years declaring April to be "Fair Housing Month." In addition, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), which has primary authority for enforcing the FHA, as well as several housing advocacy groups, professional real estate organizations, and schools have sponsored events and poster and essay contests, and have launched awareness campaigns during April to commemorate the historical passage of this major legislation and increase the public's understanding of its many protections.

Return tomorrow for the second part of this special "Fair Housing Month" feature at Fairhousingblog.com.