September 2015 newsletter now available
Download our September newsletter!
The latest edition of the Miami Valley Fair Housing Center’s newsletter is now available to download.
The newsletter has information about MVFHC’s 11th annual Waikiki Party Fundraiser wrap-up, a settlement against a New York based property management company, and monthly fair housing webinars offered by Greater Dayton Apartment Association featuring John Zimmerman.
To receive new editions of the newsletter via e-mail, become a MVFHC member.
207 groups call on House and Senate leaders to reject
anti-fair housing riders in FY2016 funding bill
September 14, 2015 — Today, the National Fair Housing Alliance delivered a letter signed by over 200 local, state, and national organizations, public officials, and businesses addressed to House and Senate leaders urging them to reject any policy riders that strip local fair housing organizations and the federal government of the resources and tools they need to protect Americans from housing discrimination.
Read the letter.
In June, the House of Representatives approved Fiscal Year 2016 spending bills for the Department of Justice (CJS) and the Department of Housing and Urban Development (T-HUD) that:
Eliminate Private Enforcement Initiative grants under the Fair Housing Initiatives Program, the only dedicated federal funding for private nonprofit fair housing organizations to conduct local enforcement of the Fair Housing Act.
Prohibit HUD from implementing and enforcing its recently released Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which provides much-needed guidance and data to local and state governments on how to meet their existing responsibilities under the Fair Housing Act.
Prohibit HUD and DOJ from enforcing HUD’s Discriminatory Effects rule, which provides a unified legal standard for how to bring and defend against complaints against unjustified housing policies and practices that have discriminatory consequences.
“These policy riders make no sense and they strike at the heart of America’s civil rights enforcement infrastructure. Private nonprofit fair housing organizations use FHIP grants to investigate nearly 70% of all reported complaints of housing discrimination nationwide, and their investigations and testing result in filtering out meritless complaints that only clog up the administrative complaint process” said Shana Smith, President & CEO of the National Fair Housing Alliance.
“HUD’s Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule is nothing new, and it actually provides local and state governments with the guidance and data they need to help them create opportunities in their communities by removing barriers to fair housing choice — this is an existing requirement under the Fair Housing Act. HUD’s Discriminatory Effects rule implements a legal standard of bringing fair housing complaints that has been in use for decades, and that the Supreme Court just upheld.”
“The American people stand to lose the most if these riders are to become law. Congress should do away with these and other ideological riders with a clean Continuing Resolution and instead focus on removing the budget caps set by the Budget Control Act of 2011,” said Smith.
Download a brief fact sheet about anti-fair housing amendments that were adopted by the House of Representatives.
National property management company settles housing discrimination complaint
September 8, 2015 — Today, the Connecticut Fair Housing Center (CFHC), the Fair Housing Center of Central Indiana (FHCCI), and the Miami Valley Fair Housing Center (MVFHC) announce that they have settled a fair housing complaint against TGM Associates, a New York-based property management company that owns and operates apartment complexes throughout the United States.
In their complaint filed with the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development in November 2014, the groups alleged that TGM had engaged in systemic discrimination against
Read the news release.
families with children across five properties evaluated in three states by enforcing an occupancy policy of no more than two people per bedroom in each apartment, regardless of the unit’s square footage or whether that unit has a den, office, loft, or other feature that could provide an additional bedroom or living area for a child.
“Where a family lives dictates the parents’ access to employment, the children’s access to good schools, and the family’s access to grocery stores, healthcare, and other vital services,” said Jim McCarthy, President and CEO of the Miami Valley Fair Housing Center. “And so we are very pleased that we were able to reach a resolution of our complaint and thus ensure equal housing opportunities for people throughout our region.”
The complaint alleged that every apartment complex that was evaluated unlawfully refused to rent units to families with children. According to the complaint, overly restrictive occupancy standards impact the ability of families with children to find affordable, safe housing in neighborhoods of their choice.
The settlement represents the resolution of a systemic investigation that was conducted by CFHC, FHCCI, and MVFHC into the five TGM properties located in their respective states. The properties named in the complaint were TGM Waterford Commons in Manchester, Connecticut; TGM Avalon Lake, TGM Shadeland Station, and TGM Autumn Woods in Indianapolis, Indiana; and TGM Meadow View in Columbus, Ohio.
The U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development did not make a determination as to the validity of the allegations and TGM denied the allegations and admitted no wrongdoing, but agreed to settle the claims by entering into a Conciliation Agreement with HUD and the private fair housing groups.
“Families with children need access to quality housing in a variety of locations. By agreeing to do away with its 2-person per bedroom rule, TGM has recognized the important role they play in providing that access,” said Erin Kemple, Executive Director of the Connecticut Fair Housing Center.
“Resolution of this complaint will enhance housing opportunities available to families with children,” said Amy Nelson, Executive Director of the Fair Housing Center of Central Indiana. “We appreciate TGM’s attention to this matter and look forward to working with them in the future.”
Fair housing organizations file suit alleging violations of Fair Housing Act at multiple Preferred Living developments
August 20, 2015 — The Miami Valley Fair Housing Center (MVFHC) and the Central Fair Housing Association (COFHA) have filed a federal lawsuit alleging that the architects, developers, builders, managers, and owners of five multifamily apartment complexes in metropolitan Columbus violated and continue to violate the accessibility requirements of the federal Fair Housing Amendments Act (FHAA). The suit, which was filed yesterday, alleges that Preferred Living Real Estate Investments, LLC and several affiliated companies have engaged in a continuous pattern or practice of discrimination against people with disabilities in violation of the FHAA.
The defendants in the case, all of which are Ohio corporations, include Preferred Living Real Estate Investments, LLC; Preferred Living Real Estate Investments II, LLC; Preferred Living Real Estate Investments, Inc.; David L. Betz Architect, Inc.; Johnathan Barnes Architecture and Design, Ltd.; Andover Park, LLC; Taylor House LLC; Alexander Square LLC, Palmer Square, LLC; Clifton Park, LLC; and Andover Park II, LLC.
Preferred Living has been developing and managing rental communities in Columbus, Ohio and the surrounding area since 1996. The company currently lists 12 different apartment communities where apartments are available, and additional three communities that are listed as “coming soon” on the Preferred Living website.
In July 2014, MVFHC and COFHA became aware that the multifamily housing complexes designed and/or constructed by Preferred Living did not include the elements of accessible and adaptable design required by the FHAA. The fair housing organizations subsequently initiated an investigation of the properties including site inspections, preliminary measurements, and evaluations by two independent experts.
The investigation identified multiple FHAA design and construction violations at each property. Some of the violations revealed by the investigation include ground floor units that are without an accessible route to common-use amenities and clubhouses/leasing offices that have several steps up to the elevated building entrance landing. Other violations identified in the lawsuit include closet doors within units that are insufficiently wide to allow use by people in wheelchairs, and light switches, electrical outlets and/or environmental controls that are beyond the reach ranges specified by the FHAA.
The lawsuit alleges that Preferred Living and other defendants discriminated in the rental of, or otherwise made unavailable or denied, dwellings to persons because of their disabilities; discriminated against persons because of their disabilities in the terms, conditions or privileges of rental of a dwelling, or in the provision of services or facilities in connection with the rental of a dwelling, and failed to design and construct dwellings in compliance with the requirements mandated by the FHAA and applicable regulations.
The complaint further alleges that both MVFHC and COFHA have been directly and substantially injured by the violations through a diversion of resources for the organizations and frustration of the organizations’ missions.
The suit asks the court to declare that Preferred Living and other defendants have violated the federal Fair Housing Act and seeks a permanent injunction enjoining the defendants from failing or refusing to:
- bring the covered dwelling units and public and common use areas into compliance with the FHAA;
- design or construct any covered multifamily dwellings in the future in compliance with the FHAA;
- and make appropriate retrofits to all covered properties in order to bring them into compliance.
The lawsuit also seeks compensatory and punitive damages for both Miami Valley Fair Housing Center and Central Ohio Fair Housing Association, plus all attorney fees, costs, and expenses.
Stephen M. Dane, Ryan C. Downer, and Tara Ramchandani of Relman, Dane & Colfax, PLLC, a Washington, DC-based civil rights law firm are representing the plaintiffs.
Previous news items are available here.
Resources and useful links
Fair Housing webinars
In conjunction with the Greater Dayton Apartment Association, MVFHC is offering one-hour fair housing webinars on the third Thursday
of every month in 2015. For more information, visit our GDAA webinar page
Inclusive Community Fund
MVFHC’s Inclusive Community Fund
is working to help residents of ZIP codes 45417
with down payment assistance, home repair and rehabilitation, accessibility modifications, home improvement loans, and neighborhood quality of life grants. For more information, visit our ICF page
Reasonable Modifications and Accommodations
Have questions about what your rights or responsibilities are under the federal Fair Housing Act for persons with disabilities? Now available online in the Services/Reference section are joint statements from the Department of Justice and the Department of Housing and Urban Development that explain reasonable modifications
HomeOwnership Center of Greater Dayton
The Home Ownership Center
is a non-profit organization that empowers local residents to achieve and sustain homeownership and financial success. They’ve helped thousands of individuals and families meet their homeownership goals through a variety of services offered at low or no cost.
MVFHC provides legal counsel and advice at no cost for foreclosure cases involving residential mortgages.
If you have received a foreclosure complaint, call MVFHC at 937-223-6035.
If you are struggling with your mortgage payments but have not yet been served with a foreclosure notice, please contact the HomeOwnership Center of Greater Dayton at 937-853-1600.
Service Animal Policy
A Service Animal Policy
is now available available online in the Services/Reference section. The policy explains what service animals are and how they are a reasonable accommodation under the Federal Fair Housing Act and also provides practice guidelines for housing providers
and for tenants
Additional Landlord/Tenant info
Also, if you are a landlord or a tenant wanting information on your rights and duties under Ohio law, the Dayton-Montgomery County Ombudsman's Office has a page about landlord/tenant issues
Mobile Home Park residents
rights and responsibilities
A booklet outlining your rights and responsibilities when renting mobile homes or lots in mobile home parks is available on the Ohio Legal Services website
Fair Housing Advertising Word and Phrase List
A word and phrase list
intended as a guideline to assist in complying with state and federal fair housing laws is available online in the Services/Reference section.
Equal Housing Opportunity usage guidelines
on the usage of the "Equal Housing Opportunity" logo and slogan are available online in the Services/Reference section.
Fair Housing Accessibility FIRST
is an initiative sponsored by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) that promotes compliance with the Fair Housing Act design and construction requirements. Visit www.fairhousingfirst.org
for instruction programs and useful online resources.
is a joint program of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy helping us all save money and protect the environment through energy efficient products and practices. To learn how you can save money in your home, visit www.energystar.gov
Copies of special reports such as Analyses of Impediments to Fair Housing Choice released by local jurisdictions as well as other reports done by MVFHC on zoning and predatory lending are available on the reports