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NFHA header image: Fair Housing is Your Right. Use It.
July 14, 2015
 
President Obama Speaks about
New Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing Rule

“Making Our Communities Stronger through Fair Housing”

WASHINGTON, DC—Earlier this week President Obama, in his weekly radio address, spoke about his administration’s new Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) rule that makes it easier for communities to implement the Fair Housing Act.

The President said that the new AFFH rule enables communities to ensure that housing is fair and that no American’s destiny is determined by a ZIP code.


#ZipCodeMatters
July 9, 2015
 
Take Action: Sign Letter Opposing Congressional Assault on Fair Housing

Tell the Senate to Reject the House of Representatives’ Anti-Fair Housing Language in Spending Bills

NFHA Members —

In June, the House of Representatives approved Fiscal Year 2016 spending bills for the Department of Justice and the Department of Housing and Urban Development with several amendments attached that severely undercut local fair housing enforcement and prohibit the federal government from using its authority to advance the Fair Housing Act’s mission of supporting diverse, inclusive communities where everyone has access to the resources they need to succeed.

No one should be denied a home because of who they are, and we must do everything in our power to prevent housing discrimination from occurring. The National Fair Housing Alliance asks you to stand with us in opposition to this assault on fair housing by signing on to a letter asking the Senate to reject the House’s harmful anti-fair housing amendments in any final spending legislation.

Click here to sign your organization onto the letter.
Click here to view the letter to the Senate.
Click here to see a one-page fact sheet explaining how the House’s amendments are harmful to fair housing.
July 8, 2015
 
National Fair Housing Alliance Applauds Release of Key Fair Housing Rule

Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing Regulation Will Empower Local Jurisdictions to
Identify and Remove Barriers to Fair Housing

WASHINGTON, DC — The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) today announced the release of a fair housing regulation aimed at promoting healthy, prosperous, stable communities. The rule will help jurisdictions that accept federal funds comply with the existing mandate to “affirmatively further fair housing,” a key provision of the Fair Housing Act designed to encourage communities to use their funds to expand equal housing opportunities.

Along with this Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) rule, HUD will provide local policymakers with better data on housing, demographics and other local conditions as well as the tools to create locally-appropriate solutions to tackle persistent barriers to fair housing. This rule will help communities make strategic use of the resources available to them to expand housing choices for people with disabilities, families with children and other under-served groups.

Read the full press statement here.
Read the new AFFH rule here.

Coverage of the rule in the media:
June 25, 2015
 
National Fair Housing Alliance Applauds Supreme Court’s Decision to Uphold Key Fair Housing Protection

Decision Keeps Disparate Impact in Place to Guard against Discrimination

WASHINGTON, DC –Today the US Supreme Court gave the civil rights community a resounding victory in the long-awaited decision on Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs v. The Inclusive Communities Project, Inc. The Court held “that disparate-impact claims are cognizable under the Fair Housing Act upon considering its results-oriented language, the Court’s interpretation of similar language in Title VII and the ADEA, Congress’ ratification of 2015-06-25 Supreme Court ruling
disparate-impact claims in 1988 against the backdrop of the unanimous view of nine Courts of Appeals, and the statutory purpose.” The 5-4 ruling confirms the continuing importance of disparate impact as a tool for addressing housing discrimination under the Fair Housing Act and reaffirms 45 years of legal precedent, including 11 appellate court rulings. Today’s decision also strengthens the bipartisan commitment made in 1968, and again in 1988, to ensure that Americans are protected from housing discrimination. NFHA will continue to work with its partners in the civil rights, housing, lending and insurance industries to advance housing opportunities for everyone.

Read NFHA’s statement here.

Read the Supreme Court’s decision here.
June 10, 2015
 
National Fair Housing Alliance Condemns House's Multiple Assaults on Fair Housing

Funding Bill Attacks Local and National Efforts to Fight Discrimination

WASHINGTON, DC –The U.S. House of Representatives narrowly approved a funding bill late Tuesday that will prohibit local fair housing agencies and HUD from effectively enforcing the Fair Housing Act on multiple fronts . Lawmakers approved language that eliminates federal grant funding to local nonprofit fair housing centers making it easier for banks, landlords, and other housing providers to discriminate with impunity. The bill also included language blocking HUD’s nearly final Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) rule, and its disparate impact rule, both of which are important tools to stop illegal housing discrimination and promote safe and stable communities.

"This bill attempts to undermine all of our efforts to achieve justice for victims of discrimination and ensure that every neighborhood receives what it needs to thrive at a time when most Americans feel strongly that civil rights laws are critically important for our society", said Shanna Smith, President and CEO of the National Fair Housing Alliance. The AFFH rule, which is now being finalized by HUD, will help jurisdictions that willingly accept federal funds comply with their long-standing obligation to promote strong neighborhoods, and work to reverse entrenched patterns of residential segregation and the structural inequalities that they produce.

Read the full press statement here.
June 8, 2015
 
Civil Rights Coalition Sends Letter to House of Representatives Opposing Anti-Fair Housing Amendment

Rep. Scott Garrett's Amendment to H.R. 2577 Would Prevent HUD From Using Disparate Impact to Stop Discrimination

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, NFHA and 57 civil rights, housing and community development, and other organizations sent a letter to members of the U.S. House of Representatives opposing an amendment introduced by Representative Scott Garrett (NJ-05) that would undermine our ability to ensure that all families are treated fairly in their search for a place to live. The amendment to H.R. 2577, the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2016, would prevent HUD from using funds to implement, administer, or enforce the disparate impact standard in the context of housing.

The Fair Housing Act has a framework for rooting out plainly intentional discriminatory acts as well as unnecessary policies or practices that are seemingly “neutral” but that have discriminatory outcomes based on race, color, national origin, sex, religion, familial status, or disability status. HUD’s disparate impact rule helps challenge unnecessary policies and practices that have discriminatory outcomes.

Read the full sign on letter here.
June 4, 2015
 
Rep. Keith Ellison Fights Attacks on Fair Housing on the floor of the House

Representative Keith Ellison of Minnesota took to the floor today to defend HUD's forthcoming Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) rule against an amendment intended to block its implementation.

May 13, 2015
 
Mortgage Giant Fannie Mae Accused of Racial Discrimination in 34 U.S. Metro Areas

NFHA and 19 Civil Rights Groups File HUD Complaint Over Neglected Foreclosures

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, the National Fair Housing Alliance (NFHA) and 19 local fair housing organizations announced the filing with HUD of a housing discrimination complaint against Fannie Mae, one of the largest owners of foreclosed homes in the United States. The civil rights groups allege that Fannie Mae maintains and markets its foreclosures (also known as real estate owned or “REO” properties) in White neighborhoods consistently better than in middle- and working-class African American and Latino neighborhoods, a practice that violates the federal Fair Housing Act. The complaint is the result of a five-year investigation.

“Fannie Mae is wreaking havoc on middle- and working-class communities of color nationwide through a pattern of neglect that is frankly appalling,” said Shanna L. Smith, President and CEO of NFHA. “Fannie Mae’s failure to take care of its massive foreclosure inventory in African American and Latino neighborhoods further destabilizes the communities hardest hit by the foreclosure crisis, in clear contradiction of its congressional charter, federal fair housing laws, and its obligation to affirmatively further fair housing. This systematic failure also creates health and safety hazards, contributes to blight, and places an unfair burden on neighbors and city governments to clean up the problem.”

The following materials are available to view:
News release
List of cities involved in complaint
HUD Complaint Document (Part 1)
HUD Complaint Document (Part 2)
Complaint Exhibit A (Deficiency Maps)
Complaint Exhibit B (Photos)
PowerPoint Presentation from News Conference
April 30, 2015
 
National Fair Housing Alliance Report Links Fair Housing to Health, Education, Transit, Wealth, and Job Opportunities

View Report Here

WASHINGTON, DC–Today, the National Fair Housing Alliance (NFHA) released its 2015 Fair Housing Trends Report, “Where You Live Matters.” The report features the importance of fair housing in ensuring access to a quality education, transit options, health care, job opportunities and healthy food. The report also discusses the state of fair housing from a national perspective, with chapters exploring the latest data on housing discrimination, highlights of recent enforcement actions, current public policy shaping access to housing opportunity and recommendations for advancing fair housing nationwide.

According to the report, fair housing complaints numbered 27,528 in 2014, consistent with the number of complaints filed in recent years. However, housing discrimination is significantly underreported, mostly because it can be difficult to discern. According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the number of reported complaints represents less than one percent of the four million instances of housing discrimination that are estimated to occur each year.

Read the full news release here
Read the 2015 NFHA Trends Report
April 28, 2015
 
Justice Department Settles with L.A. County Sheriff's Department over Fair Housing and Civil Rights Violations

Today, the U.S. Department of Justice announced a landmark settlement agreement with the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department following an investigation that found rampant civil rights violations, including a pattern of intimidation and harassment against African-Americans who held Section 8 housing choice vouchers. The investigation found that goal of this pattern of discrimination was to move voucher holders off the Section 8 program and pressure them to leave the Antelope Valley region of northern Los Angeles County, which violates the Fair Housing Act.

Read the full DOJ press release here
March 26, 2015
 
Civil Rights Groups File Lawsuit against Rudeen Development for Fair Housing Act Violations

WASHINGTON, DC—The National Fair Housing Alliance (NFHA), along with two of its member organizations, the Intermountain Fair Housing Council and the Northwest Fair Housing Alliance, has filed a lawsuit against multifamily housing developer, owner and manager Rudeen Development LLC. The lawsuit alleges that Rudeen discriminated against people with disabilities, a violation of the federal Fair Housing Act. Accessibility requirements for the design and construction of multifamily dwellings that went into effect in March 1991–exactly 24 years ago this month–require that apartment complexes contain accessible features so they are useable by people with disabilities.

The lawsuit alleges that since 2006, Rudeen has developed multifamily dwellings and common use areas in a manner that denies people with disabilities full access to and use of these facilities, a pattern and practice of discrimination that violates the federal Fair Housing Act. Examples of design flaws include routes, sidewalks or pathways that are too narrow; a lack of required access aisles in parking areas; and insufficient space in bathrooms to allow people in wheelchairs to use toilets, sinks and tubs.

“The Fair Housing Act provides clear and straightforward standards for all developers to follow,” said Shanna L. Smith, President and CEO of NFHA. “Yet, national and regional developers such as Rudeen continue to build properties in a way that severely limits access by people with disabilities. The failure to build sidewalks, pathways, and bathrooms to well-documented standards makes these apartment communities virtually uninhabitable by those with mobility impairments.”

Read the full news release here
March 19, 2015
 
National Fair Housing Alliance Applauds CFPB’s Policy to Let Consumers Voice Concerns

New Consumer Financial Protection Bureau policy will help empower consumers to recognize financial abuse but must do more to shed light on lending discrimination

WASHINGTON, DC –The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau today announced that it will now provide complaint details in its public database, expanding the value of its consumer complaint system. Consumers will be given the option to share the narrative component of their complaint to the CFPB about abuses in their mortgage, credit cards, credit report, auto loan, checking accounts, and other services. This improved system will serve as a better resource for consumers to learn how to prevent issues and for advocates to identify abusive financial practices. The CFPB will remove all personally identifiable information, including demographic information, to protect the identities of consumers.

Shanna L. Smith, President and CEO of the National Fair Housing Alliance, issued the following statement about the CFPB’s complaint narrative policy.

“The CFPB has gone to great lengths to enhance the public database for consumers while protecting their identities. Today’s announcement from the CFPB is a good step forward in helping shed light on the bad treatment we have seen disproportionately affect borrowers of color in the financial marketplace, but more must be done to make the database a better tool for identifying patterns of discrimination.”

“Lending discrimination is difficult to detect as borrowers have limited information about other people’s experience to compare to theirs. Unfortunately, the CFPB has decided not to share demographic information in its complaint database, leaving open a critical gap in the tool’s ability to identify discriminatory patterns before they cause widespread damage like we saw during the height of the foreclosure crisis. We look forward to working with the CFPB to find ways to include access to racial, ethnic, age, gender, and source of income data in the database in the future.”

Read the full statement here
March 11, 2015
 
HUD Secretary Interviewed by Melissa Harris-Perry

Melissa Harris-Perry, reporting from Selma, Alabama during the 50th anniversary of Bloody Sunday, interviews HUD Secretary Julian Castro on the work that remains to be done to achieve fair housing in America.
January 29, 2015
 
NFHA Urges Swift Confirmation of United States Attorney Loretta Lynch as the 83rd Attorney General of the United States

Shanna L. Smith, President and CEO of the National Fair Housing Alliance, issued the following statement urging the confirmation of United States Attorney Loretta Lynch as the next Attorney General of the United States.

“Loretta Lynch is an eminently qualified candidate to lead the Department of Justice, earning her the respect of Democratic and Republican colleagues. She has dedicated most of her 30-year legal career to public service, enforcing federal laws in a tough, fair and independent manner. She has been confirmed twice by the Senate to lead the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York (EDNY), one of the most active and effective U.S. Attorney’s Offices in the nation. During her tenures as head of the EDNY, Lynch has created innovative programs to combat public corruption, community violence, terrorism, organized crime, cyber crime, and human trafficking. The breadth and quality of her legal experience upholding the nation’s laws makes Loretta Lynch an undeniably strong nominee."

Read the full statement here
January 26, 2015
 
Disparate Impact Supreme Court Case Featured on
MSNBC's Melissa Harris-Perry Show

This weekend, NFHA President and CEO Shanna Smith was featured on the Melissa Harris-Perry show on MSNBC in a discussion of the Fair Housing Act case at the Supreme Court. Other guests on the program were ProPublica reporter Nikole Hannah-Jones and Vince Warren of the Center for Constitutional Rights.

Click here for more information about disparate impact.

January 22, 2015
 
NFHA Executive Vice President Lisa Rice Featured on Huffington Post Live Segment on Fair Housing Supreme Court Case

Lisa Rice, Executive Vice President at the National Fair Housing Alliance, was featured on a Huffington Post Live roundtable discussion on the Fair Housing Act case heard at the Supreme Court yesterday.

The case, Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs v. Inclusive Communities Project, represents a battleground for protecting the Fair Housing Act, a hard-won legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr and other civil rights pioneers. At the center of the case is a tool known as disparate impact, which ensures that banks, landlords, and other housing providers use policies that apply fairly to all persons.

January 15, 2015
 
Civil Rights and Housing Advocates Speak about Fair Housing Supreme Court Case

A coalition of organizations in support of protecting fair housing in Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs v. The Inclusive Communities Project, Inc., the housing discrimination case being argued before the U.S. Supreme Court next week, held a joint media roundtable on Wednesday, January 14, at 10:00 a.m. ET.

Representatives from organizations which filed amicus briefs, the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, the National Fair Housing Alliance and the American Civil Liberties Union, spoke about the case Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs v. The Inclusive Communities Project, Inc. Oral arguments in the case will be held on Wednesday January 21, 2015 at 10:00am.


January 5, 2015
 
The National Fair Housing Alliance Honors the Legacy of Senator Edward W. Brooke III

Shanna Smith, President and CEO of the National Fair Housing Alliance, issued the following statement in recognition of the passing of Senator Edward W. Brooke III, co-author of the federal Fair Housing Act and the first popularly-elected African American Senator.

"Senator Brooke was a courageous and brilliant man who used his tremendous talents to forge one of our nation's most important laws–Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968, commonly referred to as the Fair Housing Act. As a Republican United States Senator, he was a bridge builder who formed alliances with Democratic colleagues, including Senator Walter Mondale, to advance justice and civil rights in America. Senators Brooke and Mondale worked closely with President Lyndon Johnson to achieve passage of the Fair Housing Act just seven days after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Read the full statement here
December 19, 2014
 
Op-Ed: Credit Scoring Gaps Are Leaving Millions of Consumers Behind

National Mortgage News published an op-ed by Vantage Score CEO Barrett Burns this week highlighting the urgent need for alternative credit scoring schemes. Access to credit is a critical fair housing issue, with many credit-worthy Americans unable to secure loans and fully participate the housing market because of outdated credit scoring schemes that largely overlook important factors such as income, assets, and ability to make a down payment.

READ MORE: Credit Scoring Gaps Are Leaving Millions of Consumers Behind
December 12, 2014
 
Open Communities and Center for Neighborhood Technology Release Report on Transit-Oriented Development

Yesterday, Open Communities and Center for Neighborhood Technology (CNT) released Quality of Life, e(Q)uality of Place, a joint guidebook to create more inclusive, welcoming and economically viable communities by planning for housing near transit. CNT and Open Communities found that Chicago’s northern suburbs have fallen short in mixed income TOD. The supply of affordable rentals near transit is under threat. For moderate income households, the combined cost of housing and transportation now exceeds 56% of total household income.

Research shows that when TOD includes households of all incomes, resilient economic development occurs: the cost of living declines, access to jobs increases, tax bases and diversity grow, and climate impacts decrease. This guidebook lays out zoning incentives, financing and acquisition tools, targeted infrastructure investments, public participation approaches, and fair housing policies to help communities implement more TOD.

The following materials are available to view:
Quality of Life, e(Q)uality of Place: Growing Local Economies through Equitable Transit-Oriented Development
December 5, 2014
 
National Fair Housing Alliance Files Complaint against John Toland Company Alleging Housing Discrimination Based on Disability

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the National Fair Housing Alliance (NFHA) filed a housing discrimination complaint against the John Toland Company, alleging that people with disabilities were denied requests for reasonable accommodations and offered different terms and conditions because of their disability at New Horizons Apartments. The complaint was filed with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity and the Arkansas Fair Housing Commission.

The following materials are available to view:
News release
HUD Complaint
Arkansas Fair Housing Commission Complaint
Disability PSA
Design and Construction PSA
November 18, 2014
 
U.S. Bank Accused of Racial Discrimination in Five More Cities

Civil Rights Groups Amend Federal Complaint over Neglected Foreclosures,
Adding Data from Cleveland, Columbus, Grand Rapids, Kansas City, Minneapolis and Muskegon

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, the National Fair Housing Alliance (NFHA) and three of its member organizations announced new evidence of housing discrimination by Minneapolis-based U.S. Bank as part of an ongoing national investigation into the neglect of bank-owned foreclosures in communities of color. The civil rights groups allege that U.S. Bank fails to maintain and market its foreclosures (also known as real estate owned or REO properties) in African-American and Latino neighborhoods to the same standard as in White neighborhoods, a practice that violates the federal Fair Housing Act. Today, NFHA and its partners are adding 162 REO investigations to the complaint, bringing the total number of U.S. Bank REOs investigated to 651 in 24 metropolitan areas.

The original complaint was filed with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) in October 2012. Evidence gathered from 2010 through November 2014 documents an ongoing pattern and practice of discrimination by U.S. Bank in communities of color nationwide. New evidence of discrimination was recently documented, so NFHA and its partners are amending the original complaint for the fourth time. Local governments, neighbors, and neighborhoods organizations continue to be harmed by U.S. Bank’s poor maintenance of its foreclosed properties.

“U.S. Bank has been on notice about its failure to conduct routine maintenance of REO homes where it is listed as owner of record, but the bank continues to ignore the problems,” said Shanna L. Smith, President and CEO of the National Fair Housing Alliance. “The investigations covered middle- and working-class neighborhoods and these families living near these neglected properties simply want U.S. Bank to keep the properties free from trash, rodents, and other forms of blight.”

The following materials are available to view:
News release
Amended complaint
October 8, 2014
 
U.S. Bank Accused of Racial Discrimination
in Four Additional Cities

Civil Rights Groups Add Denver, Greater Palm Beaches, Minneapolis, and Orlando
to Federal Complaint over Neglected Foreclosures

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, the National Fair Housing Alliance and three of its member organizations announced new evidence of housing discrimination by Minneapolis-based U.S. Bank. The civil rights groups allege that U.S. Bank fails to maintain and market bank-owned foreclosures (also known as real estate owned or REO properties) in African American and Latino neighborhoods to the same standard as in White neighborhoods, a practice that violates the federal Fair Housing Act.

The complaint was initially filed with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) in October 2012. Evidence gathered from 2010 through September 2014 documents an ongoing pattern and practice of discrimination by U.S. Bank. New evidence of discrimination continues to emerge, so NFHA and its partners are amending the original complaint for the third time. Currently, NFHA and its partners have investigated 489 REOs owned by U.S. Bank in 41 cities across the United States.

“U.S. Bank has made a practice of not maintaining its foreclosures in neighborhoods of color,” said Shanna L. Smith, President and CEO of the National Fair Housing Alliance. “The foreclosure crisis hit these middle- and working-class communities hardest, and what we’re seeing now is an illegal pattern of neglect that lowers property values, creates safety and health risks for neighbors, and contributes to community blight. City governments and people living next to U.S. Bank foreclosures simply ask that the bank conduct routine maintenance, such as keeping the grass cut, securing windows and doors, and clearing debris and trash from the lawn and porch. U.S. Bank must be held accountable for its discrimination and adhere to basic standards of maintenance in every neighborhood.”

The fair housing organizations investigated the maintenance and marketing of bank-owned foreclosed homes for 39 different types of deficiencies, including broken windows and doors, broken and obstructed gutters and downspouts, accumulated trash, overgrown lawns and shrubs, no “for sale” signs, and other issues that affect curb appeal, the security of the home, and the value of the property.

The following materials are available to view:
News release
PowerPoint
Amended complaint
September 30, 2014
 
Civil Rights Groups Expand Discrimination Complaint
against Bank of America

Civil Rights Organizations Add Cleveland, Kansas City, New Orleans, and Vallejo
to Federal Complaint over Neglected Foreclosures

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, the National Fair Housing Alliance and three of its member organizations announced new evidence of housing discrimination by Bank of America. The civil rights groups allege that Bank of America continues to maintain and market bank-owned foreclosures (also known as real estate owned or REO properties) in White neighborhoods better than in African-American and Latino neighborhoods, a practice that violates the federal Fair Housing Act.

This announcement marks the second anniversary of the initial filing of a complaint with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) in September 2012. Evidence gathered from 2011 through September 29, 2014, documents an ongoing pattern and practice of discrimination. NFHA and its partners continue to amend the complaint as new evidence of discrimination comes to light. Currently, NFHA and its partners have investigated 868 REOs in 41 cities across the United States.

“It’s shocking to see Bank of America continue to engage in this type of illegal discrimination on such a large scale,” said Shanna L. Smith, President and CEO of the National Fair Housing Alliance. “NFHA alerted Bank of America about these problems in June 2009. We met several times with bank representatives and shared information about these problems. Instead of implementing quality control measures to address these problems, Bank of America continues to neglect basic maintenance tasks in communities of color, such as mowing grass, securing doors and windows, cleaning gutters, and removing debris. Such neglect damages neighborhood property values, drains local tax revenues and creates health and safety risks for the community.”

This fifth amended complaint adds data from investigations in Cleveland, Ohio, Kansas City, Kan./Mo., New Orleans, La., and Vallejo, Calif. The overall complaint encompasses neighborhoods in 41 cities comprising 24 metro regions. The three member organizations joining NFHA in submitting new evidence of discrimination are Housing Resource and Advocacy Center (Cleveland), Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center (New Orleans), and Fair Housing of Marin (Vallejo).

The following materials are available to view:
News release
PowerPoint
Amended complaint
Exhibit A
Exhibit B
September 3, 2014
Report: Banks and Fannie Mae Vendors Discriminate Against
Communities of Color by Failing to Maintain and Market Foreclosures

NFHA and 17 fair housing centers release report detailing racial disparities
in maintenance of bank-owned and Fannie Mae-owned foreclosures in 30 metro areas nationwide

Read the report

WASHINGTON, DC — Today, the National Fair Housing Alliance (NFHA) and 17 of its local member organizations announced the results of a major undercover investigation into the failure of banks and property preservation companies to maintain and market foreclosed homes in African-American and Latino neighborhoods. The investigation of Real Estate Owned (REO) homes in 30 major metropolitan areas found disturbing incidents of discrimination in how these banks and Fannie Mae’s preservation management companies fail to secure the doors and windows, mow lawns, fix gutters and downspouts, remove trash and provide other maintenance for REOs in African American and Latino neighborhoods, while providing these services for their REOs located in White neighborhoods.

A report detailing the findings of the investigation, “Zip Code Inequality: Discrimination by Banks in the Maintenance of Foreclosed Homes in Neighborhoods of Color,” was released today. It details the results of the investigation of more than 2,400 REO properties located in and around 30 major U.S. cities. The report is the third released by NFHA (similar reports and results were published in 2011 and 2012) and provides information about the broadest investigation to date into REO discrimination. Both the White neighborhoods and neighborhoods of color investigated were middle and working class communities with high foreclosure rates and high owner-occupancy rates. The investigation avoided zip codes with high levels of renters or investor-ownership.

“This report documents the ongoing threat to communities of color across America: that zip code determines whether banks properly maintain and market the homes titled in their names,” said Shanna L. Smith, President and CEO of the National Fair Housing Alliance. “The banks and property preservation companies are under contract to maintain these homes. They are supposed to get the best price when selling a foreclosed home. Banks and Fannie Mae are obligated to make sure lawns are mowed, shrubs are trimmed, mail is stopped and flyers are removed from the porch. They are also responsible for ensuring that the gutters are cleaned to stop water or ice damage, windows and doors are secured and repaired, trash and dead animals are removed, emergency numbers that actually work are posted and professional ‘For Sale’ signs are placed in the yard. Banks fulfill these obligations in predominantly White neighborhoods but overwhelmingly fail to perform these simple routine maintenance chores in middle and working class African American and Latino neighborhoods.”

NFHA and its member fair housing agencies have REO-related complaints pending with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development against Bank of America, Deutsche Bank, U.S. Bank, and Fannie Mae’s field service vendors in charge of maintaining REOs: Asset Management Specialists, Cyprexx, and Safeguard Properties. Many of the same neighborhoods investigated are at issue in several complaints, compounding the negative health, safety and economic effects of unmaintained foreclosures on current homeowners in the neighborhoods.

The failure to maintain homes based on the racial or ethnic composition of a neighborhood violates the federal Fair Housing Act and has a toxic effect on the health and livelihood of entire communities, according to Stephen M. Dane, a Washington, D.C., civil rights lawyer who has written on the subject and whose law firm represents NFHA and fair housing groups in several of the matters pending before HUD. The allegations outlined in the report illustrate continuing violations of fair housing law. The law is clear that banks, property preservation companies and trustees with properties titled in their names are covered by fair housing requirements.

The following materials are available to view:
News release
Report
Infographic
August 25, 2014
Arkansas Fair Housing Commission Confirms Discrimination
Against Prospective Latino Tenants

Commission determines reasonable cause to believe Little Rock apartment owners
Bailey Properties and BSR Trust, LLC violated Fair Housing Act,
citing evidence from NFHA investigation

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Arkansas Fair Housing Commission (AFHC) has issued a determination that there is reasonable cause to believe that apartment owners in Little Rock subjected Latino applicants to discrimination in violation of the Fair Housing Act. The findings result from an in-dept investigation of a complaint filed by the National Fair Housing Alliance (NFHA) in October 2013 with AFHC against Bailey Properties, et al., for refusing to rent to Latinos and for discriminating in the conditions or terms of rental based on national origin.

Bailey Properties operates as part of BSR Trust, LLC, which owns and operates close to 19,000 apartments throughout the southeastern United States.

“We were stunned by the consistent pattern of discrimination our investigation uncovered,” said Shanna L. Smith, President and CEO of NFHA. “People in Little Rock deserve fair treatment when looking for housing, regardless of their national origin. This determination by the AFHC confirms the need for justice, and we urge Bailey Properties to come forward and change their practices so this never happens again.”

An undercover investigation of Bailey Properties undertaken by NFHA in March of 2013 found that apartment managers failed to provide prospective Latino tenants with a rental application or did so only after a significant period of time following the request. By contrast, prospective White renters promptly received follow up emails from the apartment managers with a copy of the application and the other information that the complex needed to process their applications.

The following materials are available to view:
News release
Complaint
AFHC determination — NFHA v Bailey Properties
AFHC determination — NFHA v BSR Trust, LLC
August 18, 2014
D.C. Wins the National Poetry Slam for the First Time

We’re excited to hear that the District of Columbia team brought home the gold for the first time in the National Poetry Slam. G Yamazawa and Pages Matam
G. Yamazawa and
Pages Matam
This win is especially exciting for NFHA because two participants in the D.C. delegation, Pages Matam and G. Yamazawa, won in our 2014 Fair Housing Poetry Slam competition and also brought down the house at our recent National Conference. Congratulations!

Read more about the win in this Washington City Paper article.

August 13, 2014
National Fair Housing Alliance Report Links Residential Segregation
to Racial, Financial and Disability Discrimination

Fair Housing Trends 2014 — Expanding Opportunity: Systemic Approaches to Fair Housing

Today, the National Fair Housing Alliance (NFHA) released its 2014 Fair Housing Trends report, “Expanding Opportunity: Systemic Approaches to Fair Housing.” The report highlights how the federal government and nonprofit organizations have increased systemic fair housing enforcement through broad-based approaches and traditional case-by-case practices. The report also peers into housing discrimination on a regional level, drawing connections between the rate of segregation and the level of reported housing discrimination.

According to report results, fair housing complaints, amounting to 27,352 in 2013, have remained relatively steady compared to recent years. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development estimates that the number of reported complaints represents less than one percent of the four million instances of housing discrimination that occur each year.

Key findings in the report:

 
  • Complaints about discriminatory advertising—with language such as “no kids” or “no service animals,” for example—increased by 52%;
  • Homeowners insurance discrimination complaints increased by 59% from 2012 to 2013;
  • Real estate sales complaints increased by 19%;
  • 27,352 housing discrimination complaints were filed nationwide in 2013;
  • Private, nonprofit fair housing organizations investigated 69% of all complaints, more than twice as many as all governmental agencies combined;
  • The highest incidence of all types of housing discrimination occurred in regions with the most segregated metropolitan areas.

The following materials are available to view:
News release
2014 Fair Housing Trends report

 
 
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Disparate Impact
Fair Housing Videos for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The National Fair Housing Alliance, in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, is pleased to announce the creation of 12 videos in American Sign Language (ASL) with English captioning. These videos provide critical legal and practical information in a format accessible to persons who are Deaf and/or Hard of Hearing. The videos were produced by Disability independence Group, NFHA and Sweetwater Media. To view the videos please click here.
 
 

 




Tell the CFPB Your Story
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has created a new mortgage complaint system feature to assist distressed borrowers.  The Bureau is offering borrowers the chance to explain in detailed narrative their specific mortgage issues.

To file a complaint with CFPB, please click here



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