Thursday, May 6, 2021
May 27th Zoom Listening Session:
The Role of Insurance in Addressing
Health Care Inequities
Wednesday, April 21, 2021
Tuesday, April 13, 2021
STATE LEGISLATIVE SESSION PASSES IMPROTANT FAIR HOUSING AND TENANT PROTECTION BILLS - BUT NOT EVICTION PREVENTION
Fair Housing and tenant protections were among a number of bills passed by the state legislature during 2021. The most relevant for Fair Housing issues are:
1. Maryland DHCD Added Fair Housing Work - HB90/SB687, legislation, sponsored by Del. Brooke Lierman and Sen. Will Smith, requires the Department of Housing and Community Development to demonstrate actions to increase fair housing in their counties and support nonprofit and other organizations devoted to fair housing. Specifically, this bill: (a) requires the Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) to administer its programs and activities to “affirmatively further fair housing;” (b) establishes that local jurisdictions have a duty to affirmatively further fair housing; (c) requires DHCD to submit a report to the Governor and the General Assembly on, among other things, efforts by specified units of State and local government to promote fair housing, as specified; and (d) establishes provisions relating to the inclusion of assessments of fair housing in local comprehensive plans. The Maryland Department of Planning (MDP) and DHCD must provide specified technical assistance upon request. Read the General Assembly legislation summary.
2. Tenant Screening Report Instead of Credit Check - HB861/SB691 sponsored by Del. Julie Palakovich-Carr and Sen. Shelly Hettleman assists low-income tenants by establishing a reusable tenant screening report which a prospective tenant pays for and provide to landlords that are willing to accept these reports in lieu of requiring prospective renters to pay multiple times for a credit check by a landlord. The reusable tenant screening report will save struggling tenants hundreds of dollars. Read the legislative summary.
3. Right to Attorney in Eviction Cases - HB18/SB154 will help prevent disruptive displacement of residents from their homes by ensuring that low-income tenants have the right to an attorney in eviction cases. Legal representation matters; when renters have counsel it results in less evictions because people with legitimate defenses are more successful in asserting them. This legislation, sponsored by Del. Wanika Fisher and Sen. Shelly Hettleman, will save many families from losing their homes. Read the legislative summary.
4. Health Equity Resource Communities - HB463 which decreases health inequities through the creation and funding of Health Equity Resource Communities. This requires the Community Health Resources Commission to designate certain areas as Health Equity Resource Communities to target State resources toward reducing health disparities, improving health outcomes and access to primary care, and reducing health care costs.
5. Elimination of Imprisonment for License Revocation - SB20 eliminates imprisonment as a possible penalty for a person convicted of displaying a canceled, revoked, or suspended license and reduces the points assessed for these violations.
6. The Transit Safety and Investment Act - (HB114/SB199) increases economic mobility by ensuring access to safe and reliable public transportation. This bill: (a) alters and extends (by seven years) provisions of the Maryland Metro/Transit Funding Act (Chapters 351 and 352 of 2018) that require increased operating and capital spending for the Maryland Transit Administration (MTA); (b) establishes minimum required funding levels for MTA’s operating and capital spending, as specified; (c) the Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) must conduct a Western Maryland Area Regional Commuter (MARC) rail extension study, as specified; (d) establishes a Purple Line Construction Zone Grant Program in the Department of Commerce.
Unfortunately, some bills that were important to Fair Housing did not pass, such as HB26 which would expand protections for student borrowers with private loans and HB848 which would end debtors prisons for consumer debts in Maryland. Critically, the legislature did not pass important anti-eviction measures such as HB52/SB454 which would advance effective methods of diverting evictions, HB31 which would prevent serial eviction filings, and HB1312/SB910 would end pandemic related evictions.
Source: Maryland Coalition for Consumer Rights, 2021 Legislative Wrap-Up, April 12, 2021.
Tuesday, April 6, 2021
HUD COMMEMORATES NATIONAL FAIR HOUSING MONTH 2021
Click here to watch Secretary Fudge’s video statement on Fair Housing Month.
WASHINGTON - The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) today kicked off Fair Housing Month 2021. This year’s Fair Housing Month theme, Fair Housing: More Than Just Words, reflects the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to advancing equity in housing and the importance of increasing public awareness of everyone’s right to fair housing.
“Fair Housing Month is a time to recommit to our nation’s obligation to ensure that everyone has equal access to safe, affordable housing,” said HUD Secretary Marcia L. Fudge. “Unfortunately, housing discrimination still exists, from individuals and families being denied a place to call home because of the color of their skin or where they come from, to landlords refusing to allow persons with disabilities to keep assistance animals, to individuals being denied a place to live because of who they love. In this moment of unprecedented crisis, fair housing is more important than ever. 53 years after the Fair Housing Act was signed, our journey to justice in housing continues.”
Each April, HUD, local communities, fair housing advocates, and fair housing organizations across the country commemorate Fair Housing Month by hosting an array of activities that highlight HUD's fair housing enforcement efforts, enhance Americans’ awareness of their fair housing rights, and emphasize the importance of ending housing discrimination.
Secretary Fudge will commemorate Fair Housing Month with a virtual celebration on April 7th at 2 p.m. Eastern time that will also feature the Justice Department’s Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General, Pamela Karlan; HUD’s Acting Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity, Jeanine Worden; and HUD Senior Advisor Alanna McCargo.
In addition to highlighting HUD’s enforcement activities, a central focus of this year’s commemoration with the Biden-Harris Administration’s pledge to end housing discrimination, provide redress to those who have experienced housing discrimination, to eliminate racial bias and other forms of discrimination in all stages of home-buying and renting, and to secure equal access to housing opportunity for all.
Last year, HUD and its Fair Housing Assistance Program partner agencies received more than 7,700 complaints alleging discrimination based on one or more of the Fair Housing Act's seven protected classes: race, color, national origin, religion, sex, family status, and disability. During that period, the categories with the highest number of complaints were disability and race, respectively. HUD also received complaints that alleged lending discrimination as well as numerous complaints from women who faced unfair treatment, including sexual harassment.
"Although the Fair Housing Act became law in 1968, we still have major challenges ahead of us,” said Jeanine Worden, HUD’s Acting Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity. “This April, on the 53rd anniversary of the Fair Housing Act, HUD is renewing its commitment to level the playing field so every person has the same opportunity to live where they choose and benefit from all of the opportunities this nation offers.”
For a listing of HUD Fair Housing Month events and activities, go to: www.hud.gov/FHM2021.
People who believe they have experienced discrimination may file a complaint by contacting HUD's Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity at (800) 669-9777 (voice) or (800) 877-8339 (Relay). Housing discrimination complaints may also be filed by going to hud.gov/fair housing.
HUD's mission is to create strong, sustainable, inclusive communities and quality affordable homes for all. More information about HUD and its programs is available on the Internet at www.hud.gov and http://espanol.hud.gov. You can also connect with HUD on social media or sign up for news alerts on HUD's Email List.
Source: HUD press release, April 1, 2021.
Friday, April 2, 2021
MARYLAND ENFORCEMENT DATA SHOWS INCREASE IN HOUSING DISCRIMINATION COMPLAINTS
The Maryland Commission on Civil Rights (MCCR) recently released their annual report detailing their fair housing enforcement efforts. Read the 2020 MCCR Annual Report. MCCR reports that in 2020, they received 128 complaints of housing discrimination from Marylanders. This is a 37.6% increase from the 93 in 2019. Some 82.0% of these complaints (or 105) were from people who have a disability. A total of 53 of the complaints were based on race, with 91% of those from Black Marylanders.
The National Fair Housing Alliance has also released a report on U.S. Fair Housing Trends in 2020. They found that there were 28,880 fair housing complaints in the U.S. in 2019, a slight decrease. There were 17,010 complaint cases (58.9%) that involved discrimination against a person with a disability, now probably "the easiest to detect, as it most often takes place as an overt denial of a request for a reasonable accommodation or modification to the housing unit. The second most reported type of housing was discrimination on the basis of race with 4,757 (16.5%) cases, followed by familial status as the basis for discrimination in 2,228 (7.7%) cases; sex discrimination with 1,948 complaints (6.8%); national origin 1,730 (6.0%) cases; color with 646 (2.2%) cases; and religion the basis of 328 (1.1%) cases.
The Maryland Consumer Rights Coalition observes that "while Maryland makes up 1.84% of the US population, our fair housing complaints are just 0.32% of the complaints made nationwide. This low number of complaints, taken in concert with the pervasive segregation of housing in the Baltimore region and ample anecdotal evidence of discrimination, suggests that Marylanders are not reporting discrimination when they experience it."
Maryland Commission on Civil Rights 2020 Annual Report.
National Fair Housing Alliance report on U.S. Fair Housing Trends in 2020.
Maryland Consumer Rights Coalition Member Newsletter, April 2, 2021.