Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Fewer Homeless Veterans Using Shelters, Study Finds

Among the various findings in a just-released government report entitled "Veteran Homelessness: A Supplemental Report to the 2010 Annual Homeless Assessment Report to
Congress" by the U. S. Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD) and the Department of Veteran Affairs, as reported in the New York Times - are:
  • Homeless veterans are most likely to be middle-aged white men with a disability.
  • Younger veterans are more than twice as likely to be homeless than nonveterans in the same age group.
  • California has the most homeless veterans of any state, about 25% of the total.
  • The number of veterans who used emergency shelters or transitional housing for the homeless in 2010 dropped 3% from the year before, to 144,842, from 149,465.
  • Veterans continue to be overrepresented in the nation’s homeless population. They are 13% of all homeless adults in shelters, although just over 9% of the total adult population. Once veterans fall into poverty, a higher percentage of them become homeless, about one in nine.

Baltimore's Role in Civil Rights History Discussed in New Book

Amy Nathan's just-published Round and Round Together: Taking a Merry-Go-Round Ride into the Civil Rights Movement (The Nautilus Series) (Paul Dry Books, , 2011) is, according to Kirkus Reviews, "A snapshot of the civil-rights movement in one city provides insight into the important role of individual communities as change moved through the country... a case study of how citizens of one city both precipitated and responded to the whirlwind of social change around them." The city is Baltimore, and the book entertainingly chronicles the integration battles at Gwynn Oak, Kresge's, etc. Jacques Kelly has a very interesting article on this in The Baltimore Sun. You can read it here. If you want to buy the book, Amazon has it, among many others.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

"A Nation Under Our Feet" Highlights Black Political Struggles

Amazon has it here.

Have you ever read this one? A Nation Under Our Feet: Black Political Struggles in the Rural South from Slavery to the Great Migration by Steven Hahn (Cambridge: Belknap Press, 2005) won the Pulitzer Prize in history when it was published, and deservedly so. It chronicles the various, long, difficult struggles for political, social, and economic equality for blacks in the rural South. One interesting finding is that slave associations (kinship, work, religion) were very strong, and plantation life was the beginning of black political movement. Recommended.





Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth Passes

Shuttlesworth, one of the leaders of the civil rights movement, has passed at 89. Shuttlesworth is one of the figures in the International Civil Rights Walk of Fame at the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site in Atlanta. King once called Shuttlesworth "the most courageous civil rights fighter in the South." Shuttlesworth organized two weeks of daily demonstrations by black children, students, clergymen, and others against segregated Alabama. After much struggle, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 were passed, after the historic Alabama marches that year from Selma to Montgomery, which Mr. Shuttlesworth also helped organize. Read the October 5, 2011 New York Times article.

New Approach to Getting Homeless Off the Streets Is Working

At the Safe Havens in New York City, which started in 2007, nonprofit groups help homeless adults find permanent homes with adjacent social services. The City said it had been able to lure them off the streets by opening smaller and more welcoming shelters, averaging 40 beds. The City's Department of Homeless Services has also contracted with one nonprofit group in each borough to scour the streets around the clock, seven days a week, and persuade homeless people to move inside. The number of single, homeless people in the borough has fallen 80% since 2005, according to a City estimate. Read the October 17, 2011 New York Times article.

Indian Legal Leader Passes

Elouise Cobell - whose Indian name was Yellow Bird Woman and who was a great-granddaughter of a renowned tribal leader, Mountain Chief - was a heroine to American Indians for winning a 15-year legal battle on June 20, 2011 so the federal government has agreed to pay $3.4 billion in compensation for mismanagement of Indian trust funds since the late 1800s. She was 65 and lived on the Blackfeet reservation near Browning, Montana. Cobell was the lead plaintiff in Cobell v. Salazar, one of the largest and most complicated class-action lawsuits ever brought against the U. S. Over 300,000 members of many tribes will receive payments under the settlement. Read the October 17, 2011 New York Times obit.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

New Free Film on Maryland Victims of Financial Fraud

The MCRC (Maryland Consumer Rights Coalition) - which advances and protects the interests of Marylanders through research, education and advocacy - is showing an interesting new free film on financial fraud in Maryland. As their press release reports:

"These are tough times for hardworking Marylanders. Many are just a divorce, a medical injury, or a job loss away from poverty. MCRC has captured some of their stories in “Stealing Trust,” our powerful new documentary about Maryland victims of financial fraud. Join us to see the film during our Fall film series. Screening dates:

Tues. Oct. 4 at 6 p.m.
Kittleman Room (Duncan Hall, Room 100)
Howard Community College
10901 Little Patuxent Parkway, Columbia, MD.
Co-sponsored by Howard Community College’s Office of Student Life and Howard County’s Office of Consumer Affairs.

Thurs. Oct. 6 at 6:30 p.m.
La Plata United Methodist Church
3 Port Tobacco Road, La Plata, MD
Co-sponsored by Lifestyles of Maryland, Inc.

Tues Oct. 18 at 7 p.m.: Special Screening featuring remarks by Congresswoman Donna F. Edwards (D-4th)
Oxon Hill Public Library
6200 Oxon Hill Road, Oxon Hill, MD.

At the Oct. 18 event, Rep. Donna F. Edwards will provide opening remarks on the importance of protecting working families in tough times. The screening is co-sponsored by State Sen. Joanne Benson, Del. Aisha Braveboy, AARP Maryland, Councilman Obie Patterson, the Prince George’s County Dept. of Family Services and Advisory Committee on Aging and the Psi Epsilon Omega chapter of the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority. If you would like to attend a screening, please RSVP to Franz@marylandconsumers.org.

To learn more about the film, read some of the rave reviews, and download flyers for the screenings: http://www.marylandconsumers.org/Advocacy/MCRCDocumentaryFilmStealingTrust/tabid/153/Default.aspx

MCRC will be scheduling more screenings later in the Fall and Winter. If you or your organization would like to host a screening or a house party, please contact Franz@marylandconsumers.org."

web www.marylandconsumers.org
facebook facebook.com/marylandconsumers
twitter twitter.com/mdconsumers
blog www.marylandconsumersblog.org/

Monday, September 26, 2011

Carroll County Homeless Resource Day is October 1st

The Carroll County Department of Social Services (DSS), along with its community partners and business leaders, will hold a Homeless Resource Day on October 1, 2011, at the County's Winters Mill High School. The County has invited everyone to be a part of this initiative to help eliminate homelessness. As the County's flyer says,"The goal of the Homeless Resource Day is to bring together resources in Carroll County to assist this population with services which may ultimately lead to housing, employment and self-sufficiency. The State of Maryland has seen much success with Homeless Resource Days in other counties. Due to the positive impact Homeless Resource Day has had in other counties the Governor and Department of Human Resources have already agreed to extend their support statewide. With your help, we can gather together to hold a successful event in our Community to educate and assist our homeless population. Please save the date and it is not too late to participate. We can use volunteers from your organization, donations of goods or services, or a monetary donation. We can also use help in spreading the word about this important event."

For more information, to volunteer, or to make a donation, contact either: Julie Girod, 410-386-3307 / JGirod@dhr.state.md.us or Helena Watson, 410-386-3342 / HWatson@dhr.state.md.us.

Martin A. Dyer, 80, An Appreciation

Martin Dyer - a friend to many, including this writer, and a gentle enemy to bigots everywhere - passed away on September 19th. I knew Martin as a former President of the GBCHRB and a long-time Assistant Director of Baltimore Neighborhoods, Inc. He was a man of grace, intelligence, culture, achievement, and commitment who dearly loved his family. He is sorely missed, but we all are very thankful for knowing him. The following is an extensive quote from The Baltimore Sun obit by Frederick N. Rasmussen on Martin published on September 19, 2011:

"Martin Appell Dyer, a lawyer and neighborhood activist who was the first African-American to enroll at St. John's College in Annapolis, died Thursday of cancer at his Windsor Hills home. He was 80. The son of Martin A. Dyer, a steelworker, and Margaret Louise Dyer, a secretary to Lillie Mae Jackson when she was president of the Baltimore chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, he was born and raised in East Baltimore. After graduating from Paul Laurence Dunbar High School in 1948, he entered St. John's College. 'St. John's was the first college south of the Mason-Dixon Line to voluntarily desegregate," said Barbara Goyette, vice president of the college. 'There was no trouble on campus, even though college officials were worried because Annapolis was so segregated in those days. Where would he get his haircut or eat?' said Ms. Goyette. 'He formed strong alliances on campus and even formed an interracial basketball league.' In 2004 at a ceremony at St. John's honoring Mr. Dyer and six other pioneering African-American students who followed him in the early 1950s, he told a reporter for The Baltimore Sun that he attended the college after 'a core of students actively scouted Baltimore's two black high schools to recruit students for a college virtually unknown in the black community.'

'To accept [blacks] is one thing,' Mr. Dyer said. 'But to deliberately and consciously seek someone is another.' He recalled being turned away from the Little Campus Inn in Annapolis one evening because of his race. 'I always felt obligated to do well as a representative of my race. Quite honestly, I was alone in the undertaking and felt lonely and isolated,' he said. 'But I was welcomed on campus, a bastion, and that welcome made all the difference in the world.' Mr. Dyer was interviewed extensively for an oral history project, 'So Reason Can Rule: The Necessity of Racial Integration at St. John's College.'

After graduating from St. John's in 1952, he enlisted in the Army and served with the 843rd Engineer Battalion in Europe. He was honorably discharged in 1954. He earned his law degree from the University of Maryland School of Law in 1959 and briefly was in private practice. In the early 1960s, he worked as a congressional intern on Capitol Hill and was awarded a fellowship in congressional operations by the American Political Science Association in 1963. From 1965 until 1968, he was the principal legislative aide and speechwriter for Alaska Sen. Edward L. "Bob" Bartlett, who had been the architect of Alaskan statehood. For nearly the next two decades, Mr. Dyer worked in the Health Care Finance Administration. He retired in 1990."

Fair Housing News


Massachusetts Attorney General Settles Unfair And Discriminatory Lending Practices Suit Against a Mortgage Lender. Mortgages will be adjusted for 5,500 Massachusetts homeowners and black and Latino borrowers will be reimbursed for high fees in a settlement with Option One (now known as Sand Canyon - a subsidiary of H&R Block), a subprime lender. The lender agreed to make loan modifications valued at $115 million to homeowners facing foreclosure. The State's investigation found during 2004-2007 Option One issued risky loans not documenting borrowers’ incomes to confirm they could afford the loans. Some loans were based on a borrower’s ability to pay the introductory interest rates instead of the long-term rate. “They employed a business model that absolutely failed to gauge the ability of borrowers to repay the loans,” the Attorney General said. “In other words, they knew or should have known that those loans were going to fail.” Read the August 11, 2011 New York Times article.


Investigation Discovers Fraud Common Among Loan Mod Providers. The National Fair Housing Alliance, the Connecticut Fair Housing Center, Housing Opportunities Made Equal of Virginia Inc. and the Miami Valley Fair Housing Center report, "Have I Got a Deal for You! An Undercover Investigation of Mortgage Loan Modification Scams," documents the tactics mortgage modification scammers use to take money from vulnerable homeowners. An analysis of the 80 loan modification companies uncovered common tactics used to entice homeowners to use their services: 55% required an upfront fee to start work or required a low initial fee to conduct minimal work on behalf of distressed homeowners (e.g., reviewing loan documents); 43% guaranteed or promised they could secure a loan modification even before learning about the homeowners' financial limitations; 24% advised or encouraged homeowners to stop making their mortgage payments or to stop contacting their lenders; 16% guaranteed a new, much lower interest rate ranging between two and six percent on modified loans; 12% discouraged homeowners from seeking free help from government-approved housing counseling agencies; and 8% encouraged homeowners to provide fraudulent information to their lenders. Read the National Mortgage Professional Article.


National Report Finds Increased Fair Housing Complaints in 2010. The study by the National Fair Housing Alliance found that in 2010, there were 28,851 complaints of housing discrimination, 1,828 complaints above 2007, yet below the numbers of the past two years. All agencies have seen a jump in mortgage lending complaints due to the lending crisis. Private fair housing groups continue to investigate the highest number of complaints –18,665, or 65 percent of the total complaint load, although there are fewer organizations operating than in 2009. Specific enforcement initiatives also led to heightened numbers of complaints in past years. In 2008, NFHA members reported a spike in complaints due to a year-long investigation targeting discriminatory Internet housing advertisements. NFHA and its members dedicated significant resources to this activity, and the investigation resulted in the discovery of 7,500 discriminatory rental or sales advertisements and the filing of 1,000 complaints with HUD. Download the April 29, 2011 NFHA Trends Report.


HUD is Beginning a Study of the Impact of Housing and Services Interventions on Homeless Families. With a projected completion date of December 2013, the PD&R study is a congressionally mandated study of the effectiveness of different approaches to addressing family homelessness. The study will enroll 3,000 families in twelve sites across the country and randomly assign each family to one of four interventions: project-based transitional housing, community-based rapid re-housing, subsidy only, and usual care. Families will be interviewed at baseline (entry/random assignment), tracked for 18 months, and given a follow-up survey at 18 months. The overall goal of the study is to determine which interventions work best to promote families. Other HUD PD&R studies that are nearing completion are:

(1) MTO Evaluation - Projected Completion Date: December, 2011. The Moving to Opportunity (MTO) evaluation is a major continuing project that began in 1994. The evaluation will measure the differences realized by a family over 15 years when it moves from project-based housing assistance in a high poverty neighborhood to a low poverty neighborhood using a voucher. This report includes many measures of social and economic well-being, including employment, earnings, welfare receipt, educational achievement, health, and crime.

(2) Effects of Assisted Housing on Multiple Indicators of Well-Being - September, 2011. This project examines the effects of assisted housing on the well-being of adults, youth, and children. The goals are to investigate: (1) the effects of public housing on the economic self-sufficiency outcomes (e.g., work hours, earnings) of young adults who spent some portion of their childhood in project-based assisted housing; (2) the effects of housing assistance on the economic self-sufficiency outcomes of adults; (3) on the well-being outcomes of infants and toddlers; (4) and on adolescent well-being (e.g., teen births); and (5) the effects of welfare reform on housing assistance recipients.

(3) Assessment of Impact and Costs/Benefits of Inclusionary Zoning - December, 2011. This is a pilot test in two communities, followed in the second phase, which is the option year, for a nationwide study to collect and analyze data to on the costs and benefits of local inclusionary zoning programs.

(4) Inclusionary Zoning in a Dynamic City - July, 2011. Inclusionary zoning is a set of controls and incentives designed to encourage the production of affordable housing. This study examines how a developer would respond to the variety of incentives provided by inclusionary zoning. The goal is to predict how inclusionary zoning could affect market-level variables such as the housing supply and average rent, as well as how inclusionary zoning could affect urban aggregates such as the urban-rural boundary and density. Read about all current HUD studies.


Important New National Study Shows Concrete Benefits of Providing Medical Insurance to Poor. When poor people are given medical insurance, they not only find regular doctors and see doctors more often but they also feel better, are less depressed and are better able to maintain financial stability, according to a new study with the first controlled assessment of the impact of Medicaid. By the National Bureau of Economic Research, this study used a design like that used to test new drugs. People were randomly selected to have Medicaid or not, and researchers then asked if the insurance made any difference. Health economists and other researchers said the study was historic and would be cited for years to come, shaping health care debates. The study found many differences between the insured and uninsured, leading to an extra 25% in medical expenditures for the insured. Those with Medicaid were 35% more likely to go to a clinic or see a doctor, 15% more likely to use prescription drugs and 30% more likely to be admitted to a hospital. Women with insurance were 60% more likely to have mammograms, and 20% more likely to have their cholesterol checked. They were 70% more likely to have a particular clinic or office for medical care and 55% more likely to have a doctor whom they usually saw. The insured also felt better: the likelihood that they said health was good or excellent was up by 25%, and 40% less likely to say that their health had gotten worse in the last year. The researchers interviewed 12,000 people, 6,000 who received Medicaid and 6,000 not. Read the July 7, 2011 New York Times article.


DOJ & HUD ENFORCEMENT


Justice Department Signs Agreement to Ensure Civic Access for People with Disabilities in Montgomery County, Maryland. The agreement reached with Montgomery County and Maryland National Capital Park and Planning Commission (MNCPPC), to improve access to all aspects of civic life for persons with disabilities was under Project Civic Access (PCA), the department’s ADA initiative. As part of the PCA initiative, Justice Department investigators, attorneys and architects survey state and local government facilities, services and programs in communities across the country to identify the modifications needed for compliance with ADA requirements. Based on these surveys, agreements are tailored to address the steps each community must take to improve access. Under this agreement, the 194th under the PCA initiative, the County and MNCPPC will improve access to county programs for individuals with disabilities: making physical modifications to facilities so parking, routes to buildings, entrances, service areas and counters, restrooms, public telephones and drinking fountains are accessible to persons with disabilities; implementing plans to survey all other county and MNCPPC facilities and programs and to make modifications wherever necessary to achieve full compliance with the ADA; providing effective communication; and ensuring that county programs for victims of domestic violence and abuse are accessible to persons with disabilities; etc. The agreement will remain in effect for six years from Aug. 16, 2011. DOJ will actively monitor compliance until all required actions are completed. For more info on the PCA initiative or the ADA Best Practices Tool Kit for State and Local Governments, please visit www.ada.gov or call the ADA Information Line at 800-514-0301 or 800-514-0383 (TTY). For info about the Montgomery County and MNCPPC agreement, go to: www.ada.gov/montgomery_co_pca/montgomery_co_sa.htm .


Justice Department Sues Nation’s Largest Mortgage Insurance Provider for Discrimination Against Women on Paid Maternity Leave. DOJ has sued the Mortgage Guaranty Insurance Corporation (MGIC), the nation’s largest mortgage insurance company, and two of its underwriters, Elgina Cunningham and Kelly Kane, for violating the Fair Housing Act by discriminating against women on paid maternity leave. The suit, filed on July 5, 2011, in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania, alleges that MGIC required women on paid maternity leave to return to work before the company would insure their mortgages. Most mortgage lenders require applicants seeking to borrow more than 80 percent of their home’s value to obtain mortgage insurance, meaning MGIC’s denials to women on maternity leave could cost those women the opportunity to obtain a home loan. This lawsuit arose as a result of a complaint filed with HUD by a Wexford, PA., loan applicant. After investigating the complaint, HUD issued a charge of discrimination and referred the case to the Department of Justice after the complainant elected to have the case heard in federal court. The suit alleges that the defendants’ conduct constitutes discrimination based on sex and familial status, and seeks a court order prohibiting future discrimination by the defendants, monetary damages for those harmed by the defendants’ actions and a civil penalty. Read the July 5, 2011 DOJ Press Release.


HUD Charges Pennsylvania Landlord With Discriminating Against Families With Children. HUD has charged the owner and manager of Breckenridge Plaza Apartments in Phoenixville, PA, with making discriminatory statements, including in advertisements on craigslist.org, showing a preference against families with children, offering different rental terms and conditions to families with children, and discouraging families with children from applying for housing. HUD brought the charge for the Fair Housing Council of Suburban Philadelphia (FHCSP), which filed a complaint with HUD after its testers found same-size households were treated differently by imposing different rental charges when one member of a family was a child. One of the ads: "Winter Special Price for Two Adults." After FHCSP noticed ads on craigslist.org and in the local newspaper, The Phoenix, indicating that families with children were being charged higher rents than same-size households without children, FHCSP conducted several rental tests. Read the August 1, 2011 HUD Press Release.


HUD Charges Owner And Manager Of Cincinnati Apartment Complex With Race Discrimination. HUD charged the owner and the manager of the 63-unit Valley Woods Apartments in Cincinnati, OH, with violating the Fair Housing Act for denying rental opportunities to African Americans. HUD brings the charge on behalf of Housing Opportunities Made Equal (HOME), a non-profit fair housing organization, which filed a complaint with HUD based on the results of two African American testers. HOME conducted two sets of paired tests in response to allegations that Valley Woods Apartments was rapidly changing from being predominantly black to predominantly Hispanic.


EEOC ENFORCEMENT NEWS


During FY2010, disability discrimination charges filed with the EEOC reached a record level of 25,165. Here are a couple of the 2011 cases:


EEOC Files Disability Discrimination Lawsuit Against Johns Hopkins Home Care Group; Health Care Provider Refused Accommodation to Employee With Breast Cancer, Then Fired Her. The Johns Hopkins Home Care Group, Inc. (JHHCG), a home health care provider, violated law when it fired an employee because of her disability and because she challenged the company’s failure to accommodate her. JHHCG had employed a registered nurse as a pediatric case manager since 2003. She was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2009 and began medical treatment for her disability. JHHCG refused to provide her with reasonable accommodations so she could return to work in a pediatric case manager job or an alternate position, despite her being released to return to work with limited restrictions that were phased out and ultimately eliminated. Fisher was then subjected to adverse employment actions, including termination, in retaliation for having filed the charge. The EEOC filed suit (Case No. 11-cv-01911) in U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland after attempting to reach a settlement through its conciliation process. EEOC seeks injunctive relief, punitive damages, lost wages, and benefits. JHHCG is owned and operated by Johns Hopkins Health System and Johns Hopkins University. Read the July 14, 2011 EOC Press Release.


EEOC Lawsuit Challenges Disability Discrimination at South Dakota Non-Profit; Senior Citizens Planning Council Fired Woman Because of Cancer. The Area IV Senior Citizens Planning Council, a non-profit organization in Aberdeen, violated federal civil rights laws by regarding an employee suffering with cancer as disabled and firing her for that reason, the EEOC charged. Area IV terminated her in 2008 when she returned to work after surgery for colon cancer. The EEOC alleges that she was fully able to perform her duties as a kitchen assistant at Area IV’s Bowdle, S.D., location. In firing her, Area IV cited possible symptoms that could result from her course of chemotherapy treatments. The lawsuit was brought after the agency attempted to reach a settlement with the employer through the EEOC’s conciliation process. The EEOC is seeking injunctive relief barring any future discrimination, and will seek back pay and compensatory and punitive damages. “While Area IV’s mission as a non-profit is a valuable one, non-profit organizations must abide by the same laws as every other employer,” said John Hendrickson, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Chicago District Office, which has jurisdiction over South Dakota. “Our investigation showed that Area IV failed to put her back to work because of fears, stereotypes and assumptions – none of which are legal grounds to make employment decisions.” Area IV is a South Dakota non-profit organization based in Aberdeen that provides meals for senior citizens. It operates sites in 36 South Dakota communities and is funded through federal and state grants as well as local donations. Read the July 29, 2011 EEOC Press Release.


DID YOU KNOW?


October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM). Held each October, National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) is a national campaign to raise awareness about disability employment issues and to celebrate the contributions of America's workers with disabilities. NDEAM really began in 1945 when Congress enacted a law declaring the first week in October each year "National Employ the Physically Handicapped Week." In 1962, the word "physically" was removed to acknowledge the employment needs and contributions of individuals with all types of disabilities. In 1988, Congress expanded the week to a month and changed the name to "National Disability Employment Awareness Month." Upon the agency's establishment in 2001, ODEP assumed responsibility for NDEAM and has worked to expand its reach and scope ever since. Although led by ODEP, NDEAM's true spirit lies in the many creative observances held at the grassroots level across the nation every year. Employers, schools and organizations of all sizes and in all communities are encouraged to participate in NDEAM, and ODEP offers a variety of resources to help them do so. Activities range from simple, such as putting up a NDEAM poster, to comprehensive, such as implementing a disability education program. All have an important part in a more inclusive America, where every person should be recognized for his or her abilities every day. The theme for NDEAM 2011 is "Profit by Investing in Workers with Disabilities," to promote the contributions people with disabilities make to America's workplaces and economy. Read about the Month on the DOL page. / Go to the disability.gov page.


HUD Announces Fair Housing Accessibility Training for Architects and builders will get guidance on how to build accessible housing. HUD's Fair Housing Accessibility FIRST Program will kick off the first of at least 10 training events across the country starting at the Mississippi Housing Conference on August 22, 2011. This training will be at the Lake Terrace Convention Center in Hattiesburg, Mississippi and will include an overview of design and construction requirements and other resources to help local communities and developers comply with the Fair Housing Act. For more info and how to register, go to the FIRST Website. There is no fee for the August 22 training. For more information, contact John Ritzu at 312-913-1717, Ext. 228.


As Part Of Their Celebration of 2011 National Fair Housing Month, The National Association Of Realtors Produced A New Fair Housing Video. You can view it by clicking here: http://link.brightcove.com/services/player/bcpid76791030001. Read about NAR's Fair Housing activities.


RESOURCES


You Can Watch on YouTube the National Fair Housing Month Ad for 2011. Just click on: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WqC3EA-3-mo.


More Fair Housing and Related Videos Have Been Added to the GBCHRB's YouTube Channel - http://www.youtube.com/user/wkladky1! Interviews about insurance problems, discrimination, affordable housing, Native Americans in Maryland, disability issues, and more. Also, it’s easy to listen to a GBCHRB-produced Fair Housing radio show - http://www.gbchrb.org/2rad9899.htm - Just click on any show, including foreclosure problems, Baltimore racial history, Fair Housing laws, disability issues, mortgage lending discrimination, & more.


The GBCHRB Distributes Free Fair Housing Brochures, Posters, and Guides. Contact us for FREE Fair Housing info, brochures, & posters in English, Spanish, Korean, and Russian, as well as one specifically for people with disabilities.


INTERESTING BOOKS


Baltimore '68: Riots and Rebirth in an American City. eds. Jessica Elfenbein, Elizabeth Nix, & Thomas Hollowak. Temple University Press, 2011. 294 pp. $29.95. paper. This book offers chapters on events leading up to the turmoil, the riots, and the aftermath as well as four edited and annotated oral histories of members of the Baltimore community. The combination of new scholarship and first-person accounts provides a comprehensive case study of this period of civil unrest four decades later. This broad-based public history of the diverse experiences of 1968 and their effects, emphasizing the role of specific human actions. By reflecting on the stories and analysis presented in this anthology, readers may feel empowered to pursue informed, responsible civic action of their own. This is the book component of a larger public history project, "Baltimore '68: Riots and Rebirth." The project's companion website (http://archives.ubalt.edu/bsr/index.html) offers many more oral histories plus photos, art, and links to archival sources. The book and the website together are a valuable teaching resource on cities, social unrest, and racial politics in the 1960s. The project was the co-recipient of the 2009 Outstanding Public History Project Award from the National Council on Public History.


Brown in Baltimore: School Desegregation and the Limits of Liberalism. Howell S. Baum. Cornell University Press, 2010. 272 pp. $24.95. paper. In the first book to present the history of Baltimore school desegregation, Baum shows how good intentions got stuck on what Gunnar Myrdal called the 'American Dilemma.' Immediately after the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision, the city's liberal school board voted to desegregate and adopted a free choice policy that made integration voluntary. Baltimore's school desegregation proceeded peacefully, without the resistance or violence that occurred elsewhere. However, few whites chose to attend school with blacks, and after a few years of modest desegregation, schools resegregated and became increasingly segregated. The school board never changed its policy. Black leaders had urged the board to adopt free choice and, despite the limited desegregation, continued to support the policy and never sued the board to do anything else.


Conjuring Crisis: Racism and Civil Rights in a Southern Military City. George Baca. Rutgers University Press, 2010. 210 pp. $24.95. paper. Connecting economic and social reforms to racial and class inequality, Conjuring Crisis counters the myth of steady race progress by analyzing how the federal government and local politicians have sometimes "reformed" politics in ways that have increased racism. In the 1990s at Fort Bragg and Fayetteville, NC, amid accusations of racism in the police department, two white council members joined black colleagues in support of the NAACP's demand for an investigation. It is shown how residents and politicians transformed an ordinary conflict into a "crisis" that raised the specter of chaos and disaster - the intersection of militarization, urban politics, and civil rights.


REST IN PEACE


Matthew J. Perry Jr., Civil Rights Lawyer and Judge, 89. Perry won hundreds of civil rights legal battles, and was the first black federal judge from the Deep South. His biography reads like a chronicle of life in the segregated South. In the 1950s and 1960s, Judge Perry handled cases for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) that resulted in the desegregation of schools, colleges, hospitals, parks, golf courses, restaurants, and beaches. He won rulings by the United States Supreme Court that overturned the convictions of more than 7,000 people involved in sit-ins. The Harvard Law School professor Randall L. Kennedy said Judge Perry “helped create federal law that enlarged our liberty.” The judge’s cases, he said, are taught “in every law school across the United States.” The victories Perry won, frequently working with other N.A.A.C.P. lawyers, included desegregating Clemson University and the University of South Carolina; forcing South Carolina to reapportion its legislative districts to end discrimination against blacks; and winning the release of more than a dozen men from death row. In 1955, Perry represented a woman who had been elbowed by a bus driver for trying to exit through the whites-only front door. She lost her suit against the bus company, but Perry won an appeal in a case that had echoes later that year when Rosa Parks refused to give up her bus seat in Montgomery, AL. In his beginning years as a young lawyer, Judge Perry was rejected by potential black clients because they feared he might irritate a white judge. On out-of-town cases, he was barred from motels and had to drive home to sleep, often long distances. And while awaiting his turn to appear before a judge in his hometown courthouse in Spartanburg, he, along with other blacks, was restricted to the balcony. In 2004, ironically, the federal courthouse in Columbia was named after him. Read the August 5, 2011 New York Times obituary.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Hate Crime in Rosedale McDonald's Condemned

The April 18th attack has been widely condemned. Here's the start of the April 23, 2011 Baltimore Sun article:

A transgender woman beaten at a Baltimore County McDonald's spoke out on Saturday, saying that the attack was "definitely a hate crime" and that she's been afraid to go out in public ever since. "They said, 'That's a dude, that's a dude and she's in the female bathroom,' " said Chrissy Lee Polis, 22, who said she stopped at the Rosedale restaurant to use the restroom. "They spit in my face." A worker at the restaurant taped Monday's attack and created a graphic video that went viral last week. After the video garnered hundreds of thousands of views on websites, McDonald's issued a statement condemning the incident, and on Saturday the worker who taped the incident was fired. The video shows two females — one of them a 14-year-old girl — repeatedly kicking and punching Polis in the head as an employee and a patron try to intervene. Others can be heard laughing, and men are seen standing idly by. Toward the end of the video, one of the suspects lands a punishing blow to the victim's head, and Polis appears to have a seizure. A man's voice tells the women to run because police are coming.

While a manager yelled for it to stop, other employees videotaped the attack (which went viral on YouTube), until a woman intervened. Congressman Dutch Ruppersberger put it well about this courageous person: "I would also like to acknowledge the brave actions of my constituent, who is a true hero. Vicky Thoms, a fellow Rosedale resident, intervened on the victim's behalf without regard for her own safety. While others stood by watching, Ms. Thoms put herself in harm's way to help a stranger. She is the definition of the word "neighbor," and I hope we can all learn from her example."

According to an article in the New York Daily News, "a LGBT advocacy group is calling for authorities to investigate the case as a hate crime."

On April 25th, hundreds of people rallied in front of the McDonald’s restaurant to show their support and solidarity. Read about that here. Change.org has a petition that McDonalds employees who saw the crime but did nothing be held responsible. Change.org did say: "Not surprisingly, McDonald's lacks standard policies for protecting transgender individuals, despite a decent record of workplace discrimination protections for gays and lesbians. And while the company has pledged to 'take appropriate action' against all employees involved in this heinous event, just one has been punished."

Baltimore County police arrested an 18-year-old woman in the assault, and she faces first- and second-degree assault charges, and is being held at the Baltimore County Detention Center on $150,000 bail.

Let's hope all of this stirs Maryland legislators in the 2012 Session to do the right thing - to strengthen and widen the law to stop these hate crimes.


Ethnic Majority Website

Ethnic Majority is an interesting, informative web site. It has a variety of materials affecting ethnic and racial groups: breaking news, a jobs search database, a newsletter, & other stuff. It includes info on education, housing, media, business, politics, etc. Definitely worth visiting.

HUD Releases Worst Case Housing Needs of People with Disabilities

HUD just has released an update to its 2009 study, which has national estimates of the number of households that include people with disabilities who have worst case housing needs and their characteristics. It is a supplement to the Worst Case Housing Needs 2009: Report to Congress, released in February, 2011. The study is here.

The major findings of the study are:
  • In 2009, approximately 1 million households that included nonelderly people with disabilities had worst case needs - 38% of all very low-income renter households with disabilities.
  • Between 2007 and 2009, there was a 13% increase of worst case needs households that included people with disabilities.
  • Renter households including people with disabilities are more likely to have very low incomes, experience worst case needs, pay more than one-half of their income for rent, and have other housing problems (e.g., living in inadequate or overcrowded housing).
  • Nonelderly people with disabilities are more likely to be in renter households than among owner households, although most households that include nonelderly people with disabilities are owner occupied.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

FCC Acts Against Race/Ethnic Discrimination in Advertising

On March 22nd, the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) issued an ‘enforcement advisory’ that reminds broadcasters and advertisers that advertising contracts that contain ‘no urban/no Spanish’ clauses are illegal because they are discrimination on the basis of race or ethnicity.

The so-called no-Spanish clause has meant approximately $200 million annual loss to those outlets. Read the FCC Press Release. Read the Hispanically Speaking News release.

HUD's Predatory Lending Info & Materials


The HUD website has some helpful information & materials about predatory lending here, but I will copy & paste them:

Protect yourself from predatory lenders:
For information about loan fraud and advice about preventing it, see Don't Be A Victim of Loan Fraud.

Local information on predatory lending:
Here are some Local Resources by state, that can help you avoid being a victim of predatory lending.

For FHA loans:
For problems relating to origination, underwriting, or appraisals of FHA loans, contact the FHA Resource Center.


Avoiding foreclosure on an FHA loan:
Visit the HUD National Servicing Center web page and have your FHA case number at hand. You will find your case number on the mortgage settlement statement.


Non-FHA mortgage loans:
For complaints concerning practices which include disclosure of interest rates and finance charges (APR), prepayment penalties, credit life insurance, fraud, deception, etc. contact the appropriate agency from this list to complain about the mortgage lender or mortgage broker.


Lender threatening to foreclose or mortgage in default:
HUD funds housing counseling agencies throughout the country. To find a housing counseling agency near you, call toll-free (800) 569-4287 immediately for free guidance or visit the web page.

Settlement Procedures:
(FHA and non-FHA mortgages). Visit the RESPA web page for information on RESPA disclosure requirements such as the Good Faith Estimate, HUD-1 and escrow account statements, and how to file a complaint with your lender concerning the servicing of your loan.


If you are still unsure who can best help you, please let us know.

File a housing discrimination complaint:
Discrimination in mortgage lending is prohibited by the federal Fair Housing Act and HUD's Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity actively enforces those provisions of the law. Learn how the Fair Housing Act can help you fight predatory lending.

HUD will concentrate on National Origin Housing Discrimination in April


HUD will concentrate on National Origin discrimination in April. As part of its Fair Housing Month activities, HUD announced on April 11th it will "launch an effort to better address national origin based housing discrimination." The effort will consist of a national media campaign and various community discussions on rental practices to mortgage lending.

The Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in rental, sales or home lending transactions based on a person's national origin. This includes discrimination based on a person's ancestry, country of birth outside the United States, and the language they speak. National origin discrimination often involves immigrants or non-English speaking individuals, but can also involve native-born U. S. citizens based on their family ancestry. This type of discrimination may also occur in conjunction with the other protections of the Fair Housing Act against race, color, religion, gender, disability, and family status discrimination.

HUD's first Immigrant Housing Conference, which will underline Fair Housing rights and responsibilities, will be in Omaha, Nebraska, on April 14.

Friday, April 1, 2011

HUD's Cityscape Tackles Homelessness

The latest issue of Cityscape, distributed by HUD's Office of Policy Development & Research, examines homelessness and the organizations that help the homeless. This Cityscape provides a snapshot of homelessness in America and represents outstanding HUD-sponsored research.

Beginning with this issue, Cityscape will also have reactions to the Symposium articles from foreign scholars of like issues. Suzanne Fitzpatrick of Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh, Scotland, and Julie Christian of the University of Birmingham in the United Kingdom pointed to groundbreaking European analyses of housing and social inclusion.

Read the latest issue of Cityscape.

April is National Fair Housing Month!

Washington, DC - April 1, 2011 - (RealEstateRama) — The National Association of Realtors® will join Americans across the country as they honor Fair Housing Month this April. As the leading advocate for home ownership, NAR strongly supports the Fair Housing Act and believes that anyone who is able and willing to assume the responsibilities of owning a home should have the opportunity to pursue that dream.

States' Budget Woes Affect Those with Mental Disabilities

In this recession, in order to close historic budget gaps states have cut $2.1 billion from their mental health budgets in the last three fiscal years, according to a study from the National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors’ Research Institute. A new study from the National Alliance on Mental Illness finds that between fiscal years 2009 and 2011, over 12 states and the District of Columbia reduced their mental health budgets by more than 10 percent. The upcoming budgets, however, will be worse. Until this summer, federal stimulus money - which ends this summer - has put $103 billion into the states through Medicaid since 2009 - keeping state-run health insurance programs alive. Meanwhile, growing demands for help show few signs of abating, say mental health authorities. On top of this, there is more demand for the shrinking pool of public services because of unemployment and general economic malaise. "The safety net,” says Marylou Sudders, former Massachusetts commissioner for mental health, “is shredded.”

These cuts hurt those with mental disabilities worse than others. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, while ailments like depression occur in about one in four adults, 6% of the U.S. population has a serious mental illness (e.g., schizophrenia or bipolar disorder) and mental illness is the leading cause of disability in the United States and Canada. People with severe mental illnesses are more likely to have low incomes because their education was interrupted by the disease, according to Elaine Alfano, deputy policy director for the Judge David L. Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law. Employers are hesitant to hire them and their treatment is expensive, so they cost governments dearly if they qualify for public support.

According to the state directors’ survey in fiscal 2010 and 2011, half the states reported reducing the number of hospital beds in state-run psychiatric hospitals. States have limited the funding they give to out-patient providers and have cut staff. One-third of states have reduced the number of people their programs serve.

Read the March 9, 2011 Center for Public Integrity article: http://www.publicintegrity.org/articles/entry/3006/.

Upcoming Calendar

April 8-9 - John Marshall Law School "Investigating and Resolving Fair Housing Cases" (Chicago, IL).


April 9 - Howard County Housing Fair - Howard County Housing will host the “Come Home to Howard County” Housing Fair on Saturday, April 9 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Long Reach High School, 6101 Old Dobbin Lane in Columbia. The event is free and open to the public. For registration: http://www.howardcountyhousing.com/2010/12/the-5th-annual-howard-county-housing-fair/.

April 11 - BNI's 2nd Annual Fair Housing & Landlord Tenant Boot Camp.


April 8 - Third Annual Veterans' Legal Assistance Conference - 8:30 a.m.-5:00 p.m. University of Maryland School of Law, 500 W. Baltimore Street, Baltimore 21202.


April 14 - 10th Annual Frederick County Fair Housing Conference. Location: The City of Frederick Municipal Annex Building located at 140 West Patrick Street. Sponsored by the Frederick County Fair Housing Commission and the Frederick County Association of Realtors. Info: Eileen Barnhard, Community Development Housing Financial Specialist for the City of Frederick at 301.600.2842 or ebarnhard@cityoffrederick.com.


April 26 - Baltimore County Human Relations Commission Fair Housing Conference, Randallstown, Maryland. Info: 410-887-5917.


June 4-7 - National Fair Housing Alliance National Conference (Washington, DC)


July 21-23 - Listening and Spoken Language Symposium - Thhe AG Bell 2011 Listening & Spoken Language Symposium will be held at the Omni Shoreham in Washington, D.C.


September 9-10 - John Marshall Law School 2011 National Conference (Chicago, IL).

Paralyzed Veterans Sues Hunt Corporation for Housing Discrimination, Maryland Complexes Included

The real estate developer has been accused of Fair Housing Act violations in Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina apartment complexes. The suit was filed by the Paralyzed Veterans of America and the National Fair Housing Alliance (NFHA) against the HHHunt Corporation, and is based on the joint investigation by Paralyzed Veterans and NFHA of several of HHHunt's properties in North Carolina and South Carolina, and properties in Maryland and Virginia. The Fair Housing Act's design and construction accessibility requirements require that apartment and condominium complexes contain seven basic accessibility features so that they are useable by people with disabilities. The Maryland complex is Abberly Crest in Lexington Park.

The lawsuit alleges that since at least 2002, the HHHunt Corporation has engaged in a continuous pattern or practice of discrimination by designing and constructing multifamily dwellings, and common- and public-use areas, without those required accessibility features. Cited problems included: "primary entry doors with thresholds that are too high; large steps blocking routes to entry doors; hazardously steep sidewalk slopes; accessible parking without the required access aisle for people with mobility impairments to leave or enter their parked vehicles; and kitchens and bathrooms with insufficient maneuvering space for wheelchair users at sinks and toilets."

Read the March 15, 2011 article: http://www.nationalfairhousing.org/.


Racial Profiling Alleged in Illinois

The Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (http://icirr.org/) has requested the DOJ to investigate racial profiling at the McHenry County, Illinois, sheriff's office. The Northwest Herald reports that the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights asked the civil division of the U.S. Department of Justice for an investigation. The group wants to know if the department is incorrectly listing the race of Latinos on tickets. Coalition director Joshua Hoyt says more Latinos are stopped and are being systematically misclassified. An attorney for the sheriff's office said, "Racial profiling, such as pulling people over because they are Latino, is a serious accusation." (http://icirr.org/en/node/5322)

The ICIRR recently "celebrated with religious, civil rights and immigrant leaders the defeat of 10 anti-immigrant bills recently introduced in the Illinois Senate and House of Representatives. Due to Congressional failure to pass immigration reform, many states, including Illinois, have introduced legislation that would impact the lives of immigrants. Participants thanked State Rep. Greg Harris, who is the Chair of the Human Services Committee and responsible for stopping these bills to pass his committee. “By blocking these hate bills we are affirming that Illinois is home,” said State Representative Greg Harris (D-13). 'We are showing that our state is not Arizona and that Illinoisans don’t buy in the politics of hate.'"

The ICIRR is "dedicated to promoting the rights of immigrants and refugees to full and equal participation in the civic, cultural, social, and political life of our diverse society. In partnership with its member organizations, ICIRR educates and organizes immigrant and refugee communities to assert their rights; promotes citizenship and civic participation; monitors, analyzes, and advocates on immigrant-related issues; and, informs the general public about the contributions of immigrants and refugees."

Read the March 31, 2011 Northwest Herald article: http://www.nwherald.com/2011/03/31/group-seeks-racial-profiling-investigation/a4kqz32/.


Higher Discriminatory Rents for Tenants with Health/Therapy Dogs

A North Dakota federal judge has refused to throw out a lawsuit claiming discrimination against a Fargo property manager. Fair Housing of the Dakotas, a nonprofit advocacy group (which was closed in 2010-2011 because of lack of funding), accuses Goldmark Property Management of a "pattern of discrimination" in charging tenants higher rents and assessing fees. Fair Housing says Goldmark illegally charged tenants extra for keeping dogs they needed for their health or therapy. It seems pretty clear this is a reasonable accommodation. Read the April 1, 2011 Greenfield Reporter article: http://www.greenfieldreporter.com/view/story/cff8e58d72954c77a8b85d0625f49899/ND--Housing-Lawsuit/.


Great Place for Fair Housing News

The National Fair Housing Advocate's website has some breaking news, legal research, tools, links, etc. It's worth a view: http://www.fairhousing.com/.

Free Consumer Law Webinars Offered

The National Community Law Center (NCLC) is broadcasting free webinars on a variety of subjects interesting to consumers. While most are through its elder rights initiative —the National Elder Rights Training Project of the National Legal Resource Center sponsored by the Administration on Aging, others include auto fraud, domestic violence survivors, and others, such as:
  • Foreclosure Prevention.
  • Debt Collection.
  • The Protection of Exempt Benefits.
  • Bankruptcy.
  • Effective Health Care Planning.
  • Cars and Working Families: Cash for Clunkers.
  • Credit Reporting and Repair for Domestic Violence Survivors.
Check it out: http://www.nclc.org/conferences-training/webinars.html.

Monday, March 7, 2011

New Edition of "Fair Housing E-News"


Just posted a new edition of Fair Housing E-News. Just a couple of the headlines:

PrimeLending Resolve Allegations of Lending Discrimination
. Settlement Provides $2 Million to African-American Borrowers Who Paid Higher Interest Rates...between 2006 and 2009... http://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/2010/December/10-crt-1406.html

Census Finds Maryland's Minority Population Is Now 45% . The recently released 2010 decennial U. S. Census data showed Hispanics, African Americans and Asians are growing... HUD Proposes New Rule For Equal Housing Regardless Of Sexual Orientation Or Gender Identity. View the proposed rule. The rule would: (1) Prohibit lenders from using sexual orientation or gender identity to determine a borrower’s eligibility for FHA mortgage financing; (2) Clarify that all otherwise eligible families, regardless of marital status, sexual orientation...

HUD Conducting The First National Study Of Housing Discrimination Against LGBT Community. Every ten years, HUD does a study of the impact of housing discrimination on the basis of race and color. LGBT individuals and families...

Obama Administration, Treasury, & HUD Release February Housing Scorecard.

Census Finds Gay Parenting More Prevalent in the South. The data show, child rearing among same-sex couples is more common in the South than in any other region of the country, according... Read the January 19, 2011 Times article.

Census Finds Maryland's Minority Population Is Now 45%. The recently released 2010 decennial U. S. Census data showed Hispanics, African Americans and Asians are growing... Read the article.

New State-by-State Analysis of Food Hardship Shows One in Seven Respondents in Maryland Reported in First Half of 2010 Inability to Afford Enough Food...