Affordable housing program concentrates family housing development in highly-segregated poor neighborhoods, according to new report
Groups urge Ohio Housing Finance Agency to broaden opportunities for families with children to live in areas of high opportunity
August 16, 2016 — According to a new report—LIHTC Awards in Ohio, 2006–2015: Where Are They Providing Housing for Families with Children?—Ohio’s Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) program has maintained historic patterns of racial and economic segregation. The report, commissioned by legal aid and fair housing programs in Ohio and prepared by Abt Associates (a national research firm with expertise in housing), found that in Montgomery County and all of Ohio virtually all affordable rental housing developed through the program for families has been placed in highly-segregated, high poverty areas. Moreover, the LIHTC program has also cut back on development of housing serving families with children.
People on low incomes continue to find it more difficult to find housing they can afford. In Ohio, the LIHTC program helps finance affordable rental-housing units for low-income households and is administered by the Ohio Housing Finance Agency (OHFA). The LIHTC program is designed to provide families access safe and affordable housing. It helps non-profit and for-profit developers finance affordable housing through federal tax breaks. Yet, through prioritization within its Qualified Allocation Plan and through the awards granted by LIHTC, OFHA perpetuates segregation and reduces housing choice for low-income, African American households and households with children.
The report documents that:
In Ohio only 3.8 percent of LIHTC family units are in census areas with a poverty rate of less than 10 percent.
In the Dayton Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA), more than 58 percent of the awards for units in family properties were in census tracts that are more than 75 percent African American, while such census tracts only include 9.3 percent of the MSA’s housing units.
In the Dayton MSA, only 3.4 percent of units in LIHTC family properties were awarded in areas with less than 10 percent poverty, where 35.6 percent of all housing units in the MSA are in such areas. Areas with extreme poverty concentrations have 37 percent of LIHTC family units but only 9.4 percent of all housing units. Looking at areas by percent black or African American, an overwhelming majority of housing units—81.2 percent—is in areas with low concentrations of African Americans, but only 21.3 percent of LIHTC family units.
“This report could not be any clearer. OHFA is failing in its obligation to Affirmatively Further Fair Housing,” said Jim McCarthy, President/CEO of the Miami Valley Fair Housing Center (MVFHC) and the Central Ohio Fair Housing Association (COFHA).
“This has been a long-standing problem with the LIHTC program,” McCarthy added. “A 2008 report to the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination found that the implementation of LIHTC had replicated the public housing trend of concentrating developments in highly segregated, poor neighborhoods throughout the United States. This report just brings it home and quantifies the extent of the Ohio problem—particularly in the six largest Ohio metropolitan areas.”
The neighborhood in which a child grows up has a profound influence on that child’s life opportunities including their educational attainment, overall health, income, exposure to dangers and life expectancy. A recent survey by Housing Research & Advocacy Center in Cleveland shows that low income families want housing near good schools in safe neighborhoods. Properties funded under the LIHTC program have not improved access to housing choices for low income families, instead resulting in LIHTC awards steadily placing family housing in high-poverty and racially segregated areas.
“As this report also demonstrates, there is a desperate need for economic development efforts in areas where affordable housing currently exists that will transform these distressed urban neighborhoods into diverse communities with high opportunity, access to jobs, transit, and quality education,” says Matthew Currie, Managing Attorney at Advocates for Basic Legal Equality, Inc. (ABLE).
“OHFA must correct for the historical imbalance in its LIHTC allocations, as shown in Abt’s report, through bold action in its future awards,” continued Currie.
Legal aid programs and fair housing organizations in Ohio represent clients and communities that seek and support fair housing choice through the LIHTC program. In addition to MVFHC, COFHA and ABLE, they include Community Legal Aid Services, Inc.; Fair Housing Contact Service; Housing Opportunities Made Equal; Housing Research & Advocacy Center; The Legal Aid Society of Cleveland; The Legal Aid Society of Columbus; Legal Aid Society of Southwest Ohio, LLC; Ohio Disability Rights Law and Policy Center, Inc.; Ohio Poverty Law Center; Southeastern Ohio Legal Services; and Toledo Fair Housing Center.
Fair housing organizations file suit alleging violations of Fair Housing Act at multiple Metro Development properties
COFHA and MVFHC file federal lawsuit alleging accessibility violations
June 28, 2016 — The Central Ohio Fair Housing Association (COFHA) and the Miami Valley Fair Housing Center (MVFHC) have filed a federal lawsuit alleging that the developers, designers, management company, and owners of eight multifamily apartment complexes in metropolitan Columbus violated and continue to violate the accessibility requirements of the federal Fair Housing Amendments Act (FHAA). The suit, filed on June 24, 2016, alleges that Metro Development LLC and several other companies have engaged in a pattern or practice of discrimination against people with disabilities in violation of the FHAA.
The defendants in the case include Metro Development LLC; Integrated Partners Development Company LLC; Oxford Circle Development LLC; Triangle Properties Development, LLC; Ardent Property Management, Inc.;
SBA Studios LLC; Albany Landings LLC; Four Pointe LLC; Northpark Place LLC; Remington Woods LLC; The Monroe House LLC; The Residences at Central Park LLC; The Woods at Perry Lane LLC; Winchester Park LLC; and the individual and corporate owners of buildings and/or dwelling units located at various properties, named solely because they may be necessary to effectuate any injunctive relief with respect to access, retrofitting, and policy implementation that may be ordered by the court in this matter.
The lawsuit alleges that Northpark Place and at least seven other properties in the Columbus area were designed by the same designer, developed by the same developers, are operated by the same management firm, have the same or similar floor plans, have the same design elements, and contain the same or similar design and construction violations.
In August 2015, after becoming aware that the multifamily housing complexes designed and/or developed by Metro Development did not include the FHAA’s required accessible and adaptable design elements, COFHA and MVFHC initiated an investigation of the properties including obtaining the plans and occupancy permits for Northpark and the other properties, visiting the properties, and reviewing information that is publicly available, including floor plans, showing the layout and structure for the properties.
The lawsuit explains that the plaintiffs’ 10-month investigation identified multiple FHAA design and construction violations at each property. Some of the issues revealed by the investigation and alleged in the lawsuit as violations include: lack of accessible bathrooms; lack of sufficient centered clear floor space at bathroom sinks, toilets, and other amenities for people with disabilities to enter and use the facilities; lack of adequate space in the kitchens for a person in a wheelchair to enter, maneuver, and access the appliances; lack of an accessible route from the pedestrian arrival areas to the primary entrances of dwellings; and lack of accessible mailboxes and gate hardware, which are located outside of reach range for wheelchair users and are therefore too high for some persons with disabilities to use them.
The Fair Housing Act makes it possible for organizations like COFHA and MVFHC to sue on behalf of the community in order to root out housing discrimination and to ensure equal housing opportunities for all residents regardless of whether they receive a complaint from an individual. Stephen M. Dane, Sara K. Pratt, and Laura J. Gaztambide-Arandes, of Relman, Dane & Colfax, PLLC, a Washington, DC-based law firm that specializes in civil rights litigation, are representing the plaintiffs.
The lawsuit alleges that Metro Development and other defendants have made dwellings unavailable to people with physical disabilities in violation of the federal Fair Housing Act, (FHA), 42 U.S.C. § 3604(f)(1), and/or have discriminated against them in the terms, conditions, or privileges of the rental of dwellings in violation of the FHA, 42 U.S.C. § 3604(f)(2) and that the existing features at the subject properties do not comply with the FHA Accessibility Guidelines or with any other accessibility standard recognized by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
The complaint further alleges that both COFHA and MVFHC have been directly and substantially injured by the violations through a diversion of significant and scarce resources for the organizations and frustration of the organizations’ missions.
The suit asks the court to declare that Metro Development and other defendants have violated the federal Fair Housing Act; seeks a permanent injunction enjoining the defendants from failing or refusing to:
- declare that the defendants violated the FHAA and applicable regulations by designing and constructing and renting the subject properties;
- 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 Central Ohio Fair Housing Association and Miami Valley Fair Housing Center, plus all attorney fees, costs, and expenses.
June 2016 newsletter now available
Download our June 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 upcoming 12th annual Waikiki Party Fundraiser, HUD’s Updated Rule on Harassment in Housing, and fair housing webinars offered by Greater Dayton Apartment Association featuring John Zimmerman.
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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 second Thursday
of every other month in 2016. For more information, visit our GDAA webinar 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. You can reach the HomeOwnership Center at 937-853-1600
If you shop at Amazon.com, did you know that by shopping instead at smile.amazon.com you can direct 0.5% of the price of eligible purchases to the charity of your choice?
MVFHC is an eligible charity, and we’d appreciate your support. Designate MVFHC as your Amazon Smile charity today.
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