Greater Baltimore Community Housing Resource Board (GBCHRB) - Summer, 1998/V 3, N 2

FAIR HOUSING NEWS

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


If you would like a free copy of any article mentioned here or if you know of someone who should be mailed their own copy of Fair Housing News, call 410-453-9500 or 800-772-0144.

The GBCHRB's Neighborhood Beat is on cable-TV stations - Channel 5 in Baltimore City, 99 in Anne Arundel County, 20 in Baltimore County, 3 & 7 in Harford, and 8 in Howard County!

IN THE NEWS

    A Disabled Jemison, Alabama, Woman Wins $110,000 After Being Denied Transfer to an Accessible Apartment. The housing discrimination complaint alleged that the builder had not built in accordance with the 1988 Act and also failed to accommodate her request for a transfer to an accessible apartment. This was the first accessibility case filed in Alabama under the 1988 Fair Housing Act. (National Fair Housing Advocate, September/October, 1998:3)

    HUD to Start $7.5 Million National Audit of Housing Discrimination. Secretary Cuomo announced that HUD will test for and evaluate patterns of housing discrimination against minorities. Matched pair tests will be utilized, with statistical analysis. A report will be issued in 2000. (Fair Housing-Fair Lending, Dec. 1, 1998:1)

    NAACP President Kweisi Mfume Urges African-Americans to Band Together to Continue the Fight Against Discrimination. Speaking at the Anne Arundel County NAACP Awards Banquet, Mfume encouraged people to put aside their differences without losing their ethnic identity and history: "What we really represent is a quilt of different colors, different textures, all held together by a common thread." (Baltimore Sun, November 15, 1998:3B)

    A Conference on Racism in the South was Held to Commemorate the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church Bombing on September 15, 1963. Most at the Birmingham, Alabama, confab agreed that the South is a much better place, though far short of the ideal of a biracial democracy. The Reverend Will Campbell said that too many whites "traffic in divisiveness," adding, "There
cannot be genuine reconciliation until there is atonement on the part of the offending party." (Baltimore Sun, November 15, 1998:16A)

    Although Federal Legislation Weakening the Fair Housing Act Died a Quiet Death in 1998, Renewed Legislation is Probable for the 106th Congress Beginning in January. The legislation would have ended restrictions against discriminatory zoning and land-use practices excluding people with disabilities and at-risk children. For info: Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law, 202-467-5730. (The NIMBY Report, Winter, 1998:6)

   Virginia Apartment Owners Pay $480,000 to Settle Discrimination Case Against African-Americans. Housing Opportunities Made Equal of Richmond filed the case against Wedgewood Village Apartments. (Fair Housing-Fair Lending, Dec. 1, 1998:3)

    A Study Finds Nonprofit Social Service Agencies Cannot Come Close to Substituting for the Eroding Public Safety Net. The analysis found private organizations are a critical though insufficient part of many low-income mothers' economic survival strategies. Improvements are urged in income-maintenance, nutritional, health, and other programs on the federal, state, and local levels. (Housing Policy Debate, v. 9, i. 3:541-569)

    There was a 23% Increase in 1998 Visits by Families with Children to Maryland's Food Pantries, Homeless Shelters, and Soup Kitchens. The Center for Poverty Solutions study, based on surveys of 191 emergency providers across the State, found 26% more seniors used food pantries for donations. (Baltimore Sun, December 15, 1998:6B)

    A HUD Study Found 1/3 of Subsidized Households are Seniors, 2/5 are Headed by a Single Adult with Children, and are Minorities. The 1998 report, A Picture of Subsidized Households by the Office of Policy Development and Research (available from HUD User for $5.00; 800-245-2691), discovered the average income of a subsidized household is $9,500, with 17% earning less than $5,000 annually. The average time spent on the waiting list is 21 months. (Recent Research Results, November, 1998:3)

    A HUD Study Finds Clues to Strengthening Racially Diverse Neighborhoods. An examination of 14 ethnically and racially diverse neighborhoods found communities that have recently become diverse had become so because of social and economic forces initially beyond their control - gentrification, poor real estate markets, immigrant influx, aging, adjacent area redevelopment, affordable housing development. Support from the government and private sector is critical to "create and sustain communities that accommodate or embrace the increased diversity that is coming" in the 2000s. (Cityscape, volume 4, issue 2; $5 from HUD User, 800-245-2691)

   RECENT INTERESTING BOOKS

    Modibo Coulibaly, Rodney D. Green, and David M. James, Segregation in Federally Subsidized Low-Income Housing in the United States, Greenwood, 1998. $65.00     These Howard professors argue that segregation's major cause is the federal government, and that segregation by race and income has always been integral to federal housing policy. From their perspective, white prejudice merely "obscures" the critical role of the federal government in maintaining segregation.

   John Yinger, Closed Doors, Opportunities Lost: The Continuing Costs of Housing Discrimination, Russell Sage Foundation, 1997. $19.95       This nationwide study of real estate brokers and landlords found pervasive discrimination. As a remedy, the author - emphasizing that underlying causes of discrimination must be tackled and integration must be encouraged - proposes toughened enforcement, increased funding of poor and integrated schools, and local housing and race-counseling programs.

   David L. Kirp and John P. Dwyer, Our Town: Race, Housing, and the Soul of Suburbia, Rutgers University, 1996. $32.95       This is the story of the 25-year struggle beginning in 1968 by the African-American community to build affordable housing in a primarily white rural New Jersey township.

   DID YOU KNOW?

   Baltimore City's Home Ownership Institute Just Started an Emergency Roof Repair Grant Program. The Plain & Simple program is available to households with incomes below 50% of the State median ($22,250 for a 2-person household). Homeowners can receive an easement grant up to $4,000 for roof repairs. Applications are available at all City Neighborhood Service Centers.

    The Institute of Urban Research at Morgan State University Has Released Black Communities in Baltimore: Historical Trends and Current Status by Dr. Clifton R. Jones. The report is an excellent examination of historical and socio-demographic factors that have impacted Black residential areas. The 247-page report primarily examines neighborhoods in Baltimore, along with 5 Baltimore County communities. 410-319-3004.

    The Corporation for Supportive Housing (CSH) Has Developed Tools and Strategies to Help Combat NIMBYism Against Community-Based Housing. CSH's 18-minute video In Our Back Yard is available to help educate the public about supportive housing. For more information: 212-986-2966. (The NIMBY Report, Winter, 1998:3)

    Congrats to Dick Doran, the new Executive Director of the Community Assistance Network as of January 1st. The nonprofit Baltimore County anti-poverty agency had a stellar record under retiring Bob Gajdys, and we're convinced Dick will lead CAN to even greater accomplishments.

BULLETIN BOARD & SUCH

    The Maryland Disabilities Forum will be held on Friday, January 15th at the League Serving People with Physical Disabilities (1111 E. Coldspring Lane) in Baltimore. Issues to be discussed include disability-relevant legislation for the upcoming Annapolis session. 410-323-0500.

    For one or multiple Fair Housing brochures, call the GBCHRB at 410-453-9500. Free Fair Housing Self-Help Guides also are available.

    Maryland Women's 5th Annual Day in Annapolis is January 26th, 2:30-7:30 p.m. The Day includes a free issues briefing and $15.00 legislative reception. To register, contact the Maryland Commission for Women at 410-767-7137.

    The Baltimore Urban League will hold a Gala Fundraiser with Nancy Wilson on February 6th at 7:30 p.m. Telephone 410-523-8150 for more information.

   MCIL will hold a "Cupid's Fling" dance party on February 12th from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m. at Govans Presbyterian Church (5824 York Road), Baltimore. 410-444-1400.

   Living in Baltimore, the GBCHRB's radio show, is on "Heaven-600" (600 AM) Saturdays at 5:30 a.m. Guests have included: Charles Graves, Baltimore City Planning Director; Ray Skinner, Maryland DHCD Secretary; and MacKombo Omoile, NAACP.

  REST IN PEACE

    Judge Robert B. Watts, 76. October 8th. Watts was a renowned civil rights lawyer and bridge builder between the races. As NAACP co-counsel with Thurgood Marshall, Watts defended demonstrators trying to integrate area businesses. He was the first black Municipal Court judge in 1960. Chief Judge Robert Bell said that although Watts was active on protests' front lines, "It was important that Bob Watts be on the outside to get you out of jail." He will be missed.

    Attorney I. Duke Avnet, 90.
Avnet, a prominent Baltimore civil rights attorney, died on December 16th. He mostly defended labor unions and the "down-trodden," often trying cases for no or little money. He represented a group of blacks and whites who tried to play tennis at then-segregated Druid Hill Park. He also was the lawyer for many blacks during the sit-ins in the 1950s and 1960s, and was instrumental in the integration of Little League baseball in Baltimore.


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