Greater Baltimore Community Housing Resource Board, Inc. (GBCHRB)                         June, 2009 / Vol. 15, No. 3

 FAIR HOUSING NEWS

 

  A newsletter about fair housing, community development, & neighborhood quality of life

 


 

 

IN THIS ISSUE...

 

National News

 

Justice Department News

 

Lending & Foreclosure News

 

Calendar

 

Did You Know?

 

Web Videos on Fair Housing

 

Interesting Books

 

 

GREETINGS!!!

 

Welcome To The June Edition Of Fair Housing News, Produced By The GBCHRB As A Public Service!  For a free copy of any article or for a free on-line subscription: 410-453-9500/800-895-6302/wkladky@gbchrb.org.  More info & resources: http://www.gbchrb.org.

 


The GBCHRB's Website Now Has Episodes Of Its Popular Radio Show!  You can just click on any radio show you would like, including foreclosure problems, Baltimore racial history, Fair Housing laws, disability issues, mortgage lending discrimination.  Also, contact us for FREE Fair Housing info, brochures, & posters in English, Spanish, Korean, and Russian.   

 

 

NATIONAL NEWS...

 

Stronger Laws Are Needed to Combat Violent Hate Crimes in the United States.  At a June 5th U.S. government-sponsored human rights panel discussion in Switzerland, Wade Henderson, president/CEO of the Leadership Conference for Civil Rights, said much stronger and effective hate crime laws are immediately needed in the US.  Henderson stated in the U.S. "the number of hate crimes reported has consistently ranged around 7,500 or more annually - that's nearly one every hour of every day."  The number of hate crimes "committed against Hispanics and those perceived to be immigrants has increased each of the past four years for which FBI data is available."  He added that violence "because of... sexual orientation has increased to its highest level in five years." http://www.civilrights.org/

 

HUD & Fair Housing Partners Report Record Number Of Housing Discrimination Complaints in FY2008: Over 10,000 Complaints Filed, Most Alleging Disability Discrimination.  Some 10,552 fair housing discrimination complaints were filed in FY2008, according to a report released by HUD.  The report, done annually for Congress, found 44% were filed by persons with disabilities. Some 35%, or 3,699, of the complaints alleged discrimination based on race.  The report describes HUD's enforcement activities that resulted in housing and monetary relief for individuals subjected to illegal discrimination, as well as fines and required education for entities charged with discrimination.  Some examples: (a) HUD got a loan modification for a Hispanic couple including forgiveness of the second loan, about $75,000; provision of a 5 percent fixed interest-rate mortgage; and waiver of all closing costs, points, and fees associated with the loan modification; (b) a $20,000 settlement for a mother who was denied the opportunity to rent a house because she had a child, and (c) a $40,000 settlement for a family with a disability that was denied a reasonable accommodation for their child; $2,500 was donated to an autism group and another $2,500 to an early childhood development center.  To read the annual State of Fair Housing report, visit HUD’s website.

 

New Study Finds Customer Satisfaction Surveys Can Be Discriminatory.  A new study from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee found race and gender bias often distorts assessments of job performance by women and people of color compared to White males. Since employers often use performance-based evaluations and surveys to decide which workers to promote or how much to pay their employees, findings indicate that these tools may actually perpetuate discrimination and provide businesses with flawed assessments.  Researchers compared objective job performance criteria for over a hundred doctors with patient satisfaction reports, using data such as perceived level of accessibility and the number of questions asked at a check up.  The study found that favorable patient reports correlated with favorable objective performance reviews only for White men. Doctors who were women or persons of color actually received worse patient evaluations when they were more attentive to patient needs.  "It does not make sense - working harder seems to be counterproductive for women and minorities," said David R. Hekman, assistant business professor at the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee and the lead author of the study.  The same researchers also created an experiment where volunteers, who were asked to imagine themselves as customers, viewed two videotapes of customer and sales clerk interactions at a bookshop. One tape featured a White male sales clerk and the other either a Black male or White female clerk. Even though the clerks were actors following identical scripts, viewers rated customer service from the White male clerk 19 percent higher than the service from either the White female clerk or the Black male clerk.  http://www.civilrights.org/

 

New HUD Assistant Secretary for FH & EO is John Trasviña.  Nominated by President Obama on April 20th and confirmed unanimously by the Senate on May 1st, Trasviña previously was President and General Counsel of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF).  There he led the "law firm for the Latino community" by advancing litigation and public policy in the areas of civil rights, immigration, education, and other issues.  Trasviña began his career at MALDEF in Washington, DC, as a legislative attorney in 1985, and later worked for U.S. Senator Paul Simon as General Counsel and Staff Director for the U.S. Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution.  In 1997, President Clinton appointed Trasviña as Special Counsel for Immigration Related Unfair Employment Practices, where he was the highest ranking Latino attorney at Justice.  He also has taught immigration law at Stanford and was Director of the Discrimination Research Center in Berkeley.  Read his full HUD biography.

 

HUD and National Fair Housing Alliance Roll Out Media Campaign  To Fight Foreclosures And Discrimination.  On June 8th, HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan and the National Fair Housing Alliance (NFHA) announced a joint national media campaign to fight foreclosures and discrimination by providing education on alternatives to foreclosure, how to avoid predatory loan terms, and how to recognize and report rental discrimination.  The campaign includes print ads and posters on foreclosure prevention, predatory lending and rental discrimination in English, Spanish, and Chinese; television PSAs in English and Spanish; radio PSAs in English and Spanish; a movie slide; and an airport diorama.  Some 26 products with some variations in English, Spanish, and Chinese will be produced.  NFHA's members, the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, and other advocacy groups will assist with distributing the materials.  Read the HUD press release.

 

NAACP Applauds Sotomayor as Supreme Court Justice Pick.  NAACP President Benjamin Todd Jealous said, “Judge Sotomayor is an outstanding legal choice, one of the most brilliant legal minds in our nation’s judiciary.  She brings more federal judicial experience to the Supreme Court than any justice in 100 years, and more overall judicial experience than anyone confirmed for the Court in the past 70 years.   She has been praised by both conservative and liberal justices for her impeccable credentials and outstanding grasp of the law.  Her appointment by both Presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton is consistent with her history of defying labels and rendering decisions without any partisan regard.  Her powerful life story - from the public housing projects of the South Bronx to the halls of Princeton and Yale - allows her to understand the reality of all Americans from diverse backgrounds.    We believe that Judge Sotomayor will faithfully uphold our constitution’s commitment to civil liberties and civil rights, two crucial underpinnings of our democracy.”  Read the full NAACP press release.

 

Recession Slows Migration From Mexico.  Census data from the Mexican government show a sharp decrease in Mexican immigrants going to the US.  About 226,000 fewer people emigrated from Mexico to other countries during 2008 than during the previous year, a 25% decline. All but a small fraction of emigration, both legal and illegal, from Mexico is to the United States.  Because of surging immigration, the Mexican-born population in the United States has increased  since the early 1990s, with a slight decline after Sept. 11, 2001.   Researchers say that the current decline, accompanied by a decrease in arrests along the border, is mostly because of the lack of jobs in the ailing American economy.   Read the full article.

 

Demos Issues "The State of the Middle Class," Finding Economic Pressures Increasing.  The report by Jennifer Wheary, Thomas M. Shapiro, and Tatjana Meschede found it is increasingly difficult for Americans to get and keep a middle-class life. The costs of homeownership, healthcare, and a college education have soared, and incomes have leveled. According to the "Middle Class Security Index," a measure developed by Demos and the Institute on Assets and Social Policy, Brandeis University, fewer than one third of middle-income families were securely in the middle class in 2006, while a quarter were at high risk of falling out of the middle class.  Download the PDF.

 

 

JUSTICE DEPARTMENT NEWS...

 

Department Resolves Lawsuit Alleging Disability-Based Housing Discrimination At Four Multifamily Housing Complexes In Spokane County, Washington.  On May 26, 2009, the Court entered a consent decree resolving United States v. Lanzce Douglass, et al. (E.D. Wa.). The complaint, which was filed on September 25, 2007, alleged discrimination on the basis of disability in the design/construction of four multifamily housing complexes in the Spokane area in violation of the federal Fair Housing Act. Under the settlement, the defendants will pay all costs related to making the apartment complexes accessible to persons with disabilities and will pay $120,000 to compensate individuals harmed.   Also, the developer will pay a $10,000 civil penalty and most of the defendants will undergo training on the requirements of the Fair Housing Act.

 

Justice Department Sues Garner, North Carolina, For Disability Discrimination.  On May 19, 2009, the United States filed a complaint against the Town of Garner, North Carolina and the Town’s Board of Adjustment.  According to the Justice release: "The complaint alleges that the Town violated the Fair Housing Act when it refused to allow up to eight men recovering from drug and alcohol addictions to live together as a reasonable accommodation for their disabilities. The lawsuit also alleges that the defendants have engaged in a denial of rights to a group of persons or a pattern or practice of discrimination by failing or refusing to recognize their obligation to make reasonable accommodations.  The home is chartered by Oxford House, Inc., a non-profit organization that assists in the development of self-governing houses in which persons in recovery support one another’s determination to remain sober.  Garner permits up to six persons to live in the home, but has refused to consider requests by Oxford House Inc. to increase the number to eight. The case was referred to the Division after the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) received a complaint, conducted an investigation and issued a charge of discrimination."  Read the full Justice Department Press Release.

 

Religious Steering Case Settled.  On April 30, 2009, the court entered a consent decree in United States v. Triple H. Realty (D. N.J.).  The complaint alleged that the defendants tried to force Hispanic and African-American tenants to move from one building to another to make room for Orthodox Jews whom were courted as tenants in 2002-2004.  The complaint also alleged that the buildings for non-Jewish tenants lived were in the rear of the property, had fewer amenities, and were less well maintained than those for the new Jewish tenants. The Justice Department also said the incoming Jewish tenants paid less rent than non-Jewish tenants for similar apartments.  The defendants are required to pay $170,000 to identified victims and $30,000 as a civil penalty.

 

 

LENDING & FORECLOSURE NEWS...

 

The U. S. Treasury, Department Of Justice, Federal Trade Commission, And HUD Begin Effort To Fight Mortgage And Foreclosure Scams.  The administration's $75 billion effort to help nine million mortgage holders get new or refinanced loans is drawing increasing interest from homeowners - as well as scam artists, according to Treasury Department officials.  "Those who would seek to prey on the most vulnerable also seek to intensify their efforts as well," Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said. "We will aggressively pursue those involved in mortgage rescue scams."  State attorneys general will also work on the project.  The Treasury's financial crimes investigative unit is sending financial institutions a checklist to help them spot suspicious loan activity and foreclosure rescue scams.  As an example of the level of scam activity, the Federal Trade Commission reviewed online and print advertising for mortgage foreclosure companies nationwide and found "71 distinct companies running suspicious ads," according to the Treasury Department.  Resultingly, the FTC has filed five civil cases against companies offering loan modification or foreclosure services, including one against a company that spent $9 million on TV and radio ads in under a year.  Read the full CNN Money article here.

 

HUD and the Treasury Department Have Two New Websites to Help Homeowners with Foreclosure Prevention.  The website http://www.makinghomeaffordable.gov/  has a self-assessment for eligibility, help in locating a housing counseling agency, loan look-up, contacting a mortgage servicer, resources, and more.  The other - http://www.financialstability.gov/ - defines financial terms, discusses relevant regulations, lists local projects of the Capital Purchase Program,

 

Treasury Releases Capital Purchase Program Monthly Lending Report Data.  On June 1st, the U.S. Department of the Treasury released data from its first Capital Purchase Program (CPP) Monthly Lending Report.  According to Treasury: "The CPP Monthly Lending Report includes all participants in the CPP and will be published regularly in addition to the Monthly Lending and Intermediation Snapshot of the top 21 CPP participants, which Treasury first released in January, 2009.  The Lending Report will report on a monthly basis the average outstanding balances of consumer loans, commercial loans, and total loans from all CPP participants.  The first Monthly Lending Report includes data from 500 banks for the period of February and March, 2009, and information from the snapshot for the top 21 participants.  The report found the total average outstanding loans for all CPP participants were $5,279 billion in February and $5,237 billion in March.  Treasury launched the Monthly Lending Report and the Monthly Lending and Intermediation Snapshot in January in order to provide increased insight into trends in lending by making new information available about loans outstanding from CPP institutions.  Through the CPP, the Treasury invests in viable banks to stabilize the financial system by building up the capital bases of banks, enabling continued lending and economic recovery.  Since creating the CPP in October, 2008, Treasury has invested in more than 600 banks of all sizes in 48 states, Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia."  Read the full Treasury release.

 

Insurance Costs Rise, Despite Falling Values.  According to a report reprinted in the national Realtors website, the cost of homeowners insurance is not decreasing despite the large declines in sale prices.  "There has been a lot of noise lately around market values, but market value and the cost to rebuild are two totally different things," says Elaine Baisden, vice president of national property for property casualty insurer Travelers.  Marshall & Swift, which calculates building costs, says it can cost 30% more to rebuild than to build.  Reconstruction costs are greater because of demolition and removal expenses and the price of bringing older structures up to current codes.  While mortgage companies require borrowers to carry 100% coverage at time of closing, it is unnecessary to continue this coverage because the value of the land isn’t at risk. Typically, the building lot accounts for 25% of a home’s value.  Source: United Feature Syndicate, Lew Sichelman (06/12/2009)

 

In The National Community Reinvestment Coalition’s (NCRC) nationwide “Day of Action” on June 11th, Rallies in Over 50 Cities Called for Job Creation, Foreclosure Prevention, and Community Rebuilding.  The public events called for greater accountability and integrity in the US financial system, highlights the damage to communities as a result of the economic crisis, supports legislative reforms to create jobs, stop foreclosures and rebuild communities and supports the passage of the Community Reinvestment Modernization Act of 2009 (HR 1479).  “The current crisis demonstrates that consumer protections are integrally linked with the safety and soundness of the financial system. As the government has propped up financial institutions with trillions of dollars in investments, loans and guarantees, it has not done enough to not protect working Americans from foreclosure and job loss, or to prevent this crisis from occurring again,” said John Taylor, president & CEO of NCRC.

 

University Of Minnesota Study Shows Racial Disparities In Twin Cities Mortgage Lending.  "Communities in Crisis," issued by the University of Minnesota Institute on Race and Poverty, found that the Twin Cities has some of the nation's worst racial disparities in mortgage lending, with those hardest hit by the subprime lending and foreclosure crisis are communities of color. Even of higher incomes, people of color were more likely to be denied loans, with black borrowers having the greatest disparities.  Black borrowers with incomes over $157,000 had a 25% denial rate, compared with 11% for whites making $39,250.  The same pattern held true for high-income Asians and Hispanics.  Subprime loans were prevalent for high- and very-high-income black and Hispanic borrowers than whites for any income.  The study also found racial segregation of neighborhoods were underserved by prime lending institutions, contributing to higher subprime loan rates.  Watch a video on the study with Myron Orfield of the Institute on Race and Poverty: http://www1.umn.edu/urelate/newsservice/Multimedia_Videos/orfield.htm. 

 

The Nation Issues Negative Report on the Response to the Mortgage Lending Crisis.  "All over the country, confused, struggling borrowers and an opaque army of industry contractors are fumbling toward each other in the dark, with guns drawn.  Every effort to date to order that chaos has failed utterly. The mortgage industry got things started in July 2007 with its cruelly named HOPE NOW program.  George W. Bush offered a narrowly tailored Federal Housing Authority (FHA) refinancing program, dubbed FHASecure. And last summer, Congressional Democrats finally came in big with HOPE for Homeowners, which put up $300 billion for FHA-administered refinances. All these plans have two things in common: they relied on the industry's voluntary participation, and they didn't work.  HOPE for Homeowners has generated the most laughable data. The program launched in October. As of late March, it has prevented exactly one foreclosure. "Needless to say, the program isn't working terribly well," an FHA spokesman deadpanned to CNNMoney.com.  HOPE NOW's press shop has been less modest. The program claims to have helped millions avoid foreclosure through loan modifications. But despair lies just below the surface of the industry's assertions. In early April, the Office of Thrift Supervision (OTS) released a fourth-quarter report that found more than half of all loan workouts last year failed to reduce monthly payments, and nearly one-third actually increased the payments.  No surprise, then, that 60 percent of loans modified in the first three quarters of 2008 were at least thirty days delinquent at year's end, according to OTS. Valparaiso University consumer law scholar Alan White describes it as 'converting risky subprime loans into risky modified loans.'"

Read the full April 29, 2009, report here.

 

 

CALENDAR...

 

The NAACP Is Holding Its 100th Centennial Convention - "NAACP: 100 Years - Bold Dreams, Big Victories" - July 11-16, 2009.  It Will Be Held At The New York Hilton Hotel, 1335 Avenue Of The Americas, New York, NY 10019.   Read more and register here.

 

 

DID YOU KNOW?e, pling

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We have brochures, Self-Help Guides to Fair Housing for individual counties, curricula for renting & buying housing, and much more!  Quantities available for no charge!  Contact us at: 410-453-9500 / 800-895-6302 / wkladky@gbchrb.org.n of Realtors

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Do You Need Help or Info About Avoiding Foreclosure?  Contact http://www.mdhope.org.

 

The GBCHRB's Neighborhood Beat TV Show Is on Cable Stations Across Maryland! Hosted by Dr. Bill Kladky of the GBCHRB, the 30-minute interview show runs in Baltimore City, the counties of Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Carroll, Harford, Howard, Calvert, St. Mary's, Talbot, Prince George's, and Montgomery, and the City of Takoma Park.  Call 410-453-9500 / wkladky@gbchrb.org for days and time, or for a copy of a show.

 

 

WEB VIDEOS ON FAIR HOUSING...

 

View on FORA.tv a Shabbat in Commemoration of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King taped at the Sixth and I Historic Synagogue: here.

 

See a FORA.TV Taping Of A Lecture and Discussion On "The History Of The Race Issue": http://fora.tv/2007/03/26/History_of_the_Black-White_Race_Issue.

 

Don't Forget: Youtube As A Lot Of Fair Housing Videos, From PSAs To Snippets Of Everything:  http://www.youtube.com/results?search_type=&search_query=fair+housing&aq=f

 

 

INTERESTING BOOKS...

 

Leonard W. Levy, Origins of the Bill of Rights.  New Haven: Yale University, 2001.  paper.  $15.95.  Levy devotes chapters to important protections: freedom of speech, freedom of religion, habeas corpus, prohibitions on bills of attainder, etc.  Each topic has its sources, background in English common law, ties to Enlightenment philosophy, colonial state constitutions, as well as the social and historical forces that influenced the evolution of each right.  Recommended.

 

Edward E. Telles and Vilma Ortiz, Generations of Exclusion: Mexican Americans, Assimilation, and Race.  New York: Russell Sage Foundation, 2008.  383 pp.  $39.95 cloth.  This book measures Mexican American integration across a wide number of dimensions: education, English and Spanish language use, socioeconomic status, intermarriage, residential segregation, ethnic identity, and political participation. Linguistically, Mexican Americans assimilate into mainstream America well - by the second generation, nearly all Mexican Americans achieve English proficiency.  Assimilation is not as positive in other ways. The majority of fourth generation Mexican Americans continue to live in Hispanic neighborhoods, marry other Hispanics, and consider themselves Mexican.  Economic progress halts at the second generation, and poverty rates remain high for later generations.  Educational attainment peaks among second generation children of immigrants, but declines for the third and fourth generations.  Institutional barriers are seen as as a major source of disadvantage, with chronic under-funding in school systems predominately serving Mexican Americans, persistent discrimination, punitive immigration policies, and reliance on cheap Mexican labor in the southwest making integration difficult.