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Kenwood Gardens Apartments Establishes New Policy for individuals with DisabilitiesOctober 25, 2013
The Toledo Fair Housing Center and the Ability Center of Greater Toledo reached a monetary settlement for disabled Complainant, Mr. Charles McDevitt. Mr. McDevitt was previously a resident of Kenwood Gardens, whose parent company is Morgan Properties. After Mr. McDevitt’s attempts to obtain a Reasonable Modification and Reasonable Accommodation and issues regarding management’s responsiveness, Mr. McDevitt contacted the Ability Center for assistance and subsequently, The Toledo Fair Housing Center became involved. Both Agencies entered into discussions with the attorney for Morgan Properties, Samuel Lillard, of Columbus law firm, McNess, Wallace and Nurick, and successfully resolved their disputes. Both Agencies, and Mr. McDevitt, agreed to voluntarily withdraw their respective Ohio Civil Rights Commission complaints. Kenwood Gardens and Morgan Properties’ actions were deemed non-discriminatory in the settlement agreement.
Most notably, as a result of Mr. McDevitt coming forward and raising these issues with Kenwood Gardens, Morgan Properties will implement a new twelve page policy manual for its property managers and staff. The new policy will improve its practices and procedures to assist disabled tenants requesting a reasonable accommodation and/or modification. The policy will include:
• Flow charts indicating the proper procedure to request a reasonable accommodation/modification
• How and when management should respond
• Guidelines for applicants and residents
• Sample letters for management to utilize
• User-friendly information regarding the federal and state Fair Housing laws
• And so much more
This policy manual will not only affect the Toledo Kenwood Gardens disabled residents and those who assist disabled residents, it will also impact disabled residents who reside at Morgan Properties’ other complexes across the country, including Delaware, Indiana, Maryland, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina and Virginia.
Ash Lemons, Director of Housing and Advocacy, Housing Resource Center of the Ability Center says “Morgan Properties revised policy regarding, Reasonable Accommodation and Modification request for People with Disabilities, is a well-researched document. The implementation of this model policy will go far to ensure that future request have the assurance of being administered as part of an interactive process between qualified tenants and property management. Morgan Properties policy greatly enhances the ability for People with Disabilities to gain and/or maintain independent living as valued members of a community”
Michael P. Marsh, CFRE, President and CEO of the Toledo Fair Housing Center says “It takes the courage of individuals like Mr. McDevitt to speak up not only for their own individual rights under the fair housing laws, but also to affect positive change for others. Because of Mr. McDevitt’s courage, countless persons with disabilities will now have opportunities to fully enjoy their living spaces. Morgan Properties is to be commended for establishing a policy and procedure manual for employees of their housing sites to follow when individuals with disabilities request reasonable accommodations or modifications.”
Morgan Properties is in the process of training its property managers on this new policy and has agreed to complete this training within six months after executing the settlement Agreement. Training should be complete by the end of April, 2014.
The Toledo Fair Housing Center hopes to share Morgan Properties’ new policy (upon permission) with the National Fair Housing Alliance and other Fair Housing Centers and disability rights advocates across the country, as a model policy of how other property management companies can go about revising its policies for residents with disabilities. The Toledo Fair Housing Center will monitor these properties to make certain it is following through with its training and revised practices.
The Fair Housing Act provides federal protections to individuals with disabilities and other protected classes, such as race, color, national origin, sex, religion, familial status and in Ohio, military status and age (in lending cases) and in Toledo, sexual orientation. Out of all of the protected classes, disability is the highest basis for housing discrimination complaints in Ohio and throughout the country.
The Toledo Fair Housing Center is a civil rights agency dedicated to the elimination of housing discrimination and its effects on individuals and communities by providing education, advocacy, enforcement and helping to shape public policy (http://www.toledofhc.org) and The Ability Center of Greater Toledo assists people with disabilities to live, work and socialize within a fully accessible community (http://www.abilitycenter.org). To learn more about the Housing and Urban Development and the Department of Justice’s Joint Statements on Reasonable Accommodations and Reasonable Modifications, follow these website links: http://www.hud.gov/offices/fheo/library/huddojstatement.pdf and: http://www.hud.gov/offices/fheo/disabilities/reasonable_modifications_mar08.pdf
Toledo to Receive $1.4 Million in Community Relief as Part of Ground-Breaking Fair Housing AgreementJune 06, 2013
National Fair Housing Alliance, Toledo Fair Housing Center and Wells Fargo Announce Collaboration To Rebuild Homeownership Opportunities in 19 Cities
Toledo to Receive $1.4 Million in Community Relief as
Part of Ground-Breaking Fair Housing Agreement for Marketing
and Maintenance of Foreclosed Properties
WASHINGTON, DC – Today the National Fair Housing Alliance (NFHA) and 13 of its member organizations announced a collaboration with Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. that will provide funds in 19 cities to foster homeownership, assist with rebuilding neighborhoods of color impacted by the foreclosure crisis, and promote diverse, inclusive communities.
“NFHA is looking forward to working in collaboration with Wells Fargo to make sure that all communities have a chance at a fair recovery,” said Shanna L. Smith, President and CEO of the National Fair Housing Alliance. “We are thrilled to see Wells Fargo’s renewed efforts and leadership in this area.”
“The Toledo Fair Housing Center is excited about the collaboration with Wells Fargo,” said Michael P. Marsh, President and CEO, Toledo Fair Housing Center. “This $1.4 million investment will have a substantial impact on the homeownership opportunities in our communities of color, where access to capital has always been a struggle.”
NFHA and the following 13 fair housing organizations are parties to the agreement: Denver Metro Fair Housing Center, Denver, CO; Fair Housing Center of Central Indiana, Indianapolis, IN; Fair Housing Center of West Michigan, Grand Rapids, MI; Fair Housing Continuum, Inc., Melbourne, FL; Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center, New Orleans, LA; HOPE Fair Housing Center, West Chicago, IL; Housing Opportunities Project for Excellence, Inc., Miami, FL; Metro Fair Housing Services, Inc., Atlanta, GA; Metropolitan Milwaukee Fair Housing Council, Milwaukee, WI; Miami Valley Fair Housing Center, Dayton, OH; North Texas Fair Housing Center, Dallas, TX; South Suburban Housing Center, Homewood, IL; and Toledo Fair Housing Center, Toledo, OH.
Wells Fargo will provide $27 million to NFHA and the fair housing organizations to benefit 19 cities and promote home ownership, neighborhood stabilization, property rehabilitation, and development in communities of color. NFHA and the 13 local non-profit fair housing organizations will manage the funds and provide a range of grants for items such as down payment assistance to owner-occupants seeking to purchase homes in targeted neighborhoods and renovation efforts for homes that languished in foreclosure, including creative programs to increase homeownership and neighborhood stabilization.
The 19 geographic areas included in the agreement with NFHA are: Atlanta, GA; Baltimore and Prince George’s County, MD; Baton Rouge/New Orleans, LA; Charleston, SC; Metropolitan Chicago, south Cook County, IL; Oakland and Richmond, CA; Dallas, TX; Denver, CO; Dayton, OH; Grand Rapids, MI; Indianapolis, IN; Miami, FL; Milwaukee, WI; Orlando, FL; Philadelphia, PA; Toledo, OH; and Washington, DC.
Real Estate Owned (REO) properties are homes that have gone through foreclosure and are now owned by banks, investors, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, the Federal Housing Administration, or Veterans Affairs.
“Many neighborhoods across the country have been seriously damaged by the foreclosure crisis, including the impact of REO homes on property values, curb appeal, and tax revenue for schools,” continued Shanna Smith. “Our joint efforts will help lay the foundation for the industry to get some of those neighborhoods back on their feet.”
Under the agreement, Wells Fargo has made a number of very important commitments that will benefit communities throughout the United States, including the following:
• Wells Fargo will pay $27 million to NFHA and the 13 fair housing organizations to assist 19 cities to promote home ownership, neighborhood stabilization, property rehabilitation, and development in communities of color.
• Wells Fargo will continue to implement best practices for the maintenance and marketing of its REO properties. A third party will monitor Wells Fargo’s portfolio of REO properties to ensure that Wells Fargo maintains and markets its REO properties according to the standards set forth in the agreement.
• Wells Fargo will enhance its Homeowner Priority program to give owner-occupants higher priority over investors in purchasing REOs. Wells Fargo will extend its Homeowner Priority period so that owner-occupants will have priority over investors to purchase Wells Fargo REO properties until the fifteenth day a property is on the market rather than the current twelve-day period.
• Wells will create a new five-day Homeowner Priority period every time there is a price reduction on a Wells Fargo REO home. Wells Fargo will give priority to owner-occupants who make offers that meet or exceed the price of offers from those who do not intend to live in the home.
• Wells Fargo will make it easier to get information about its REO properties. Wells Fargo has improved its web site and toll free numbers to provide more information to prospective purchasers and anyone who wants to tell Wells Fargo about a problem with an REO property or an agent who is selling a Wells Fargo REO property.
• Wells Fargo and NFHA will sponsor two conferences designed to bring together approximately 100 industry and non-profit housing and real estate participants and regulatory agencies to discuss fair housing and its intersection with other current housing issues, including short sales, abandoned properties, and REO maintenance.
• In consultation with NFHA, Wells Fargo will develop a fair housing training program on REO issues for its employees who work on REO issues and for agents who sell Wells Fargo REO properties.
This is the first-ever agreement regarding the equal maintenance and marketing of REO homes. The agreement is the result of a federal housing discrimination complaint filed in April 2012 with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The complaint alleged that Wells Fargo’s REO properties in white areas were much better maintained and marketed by Wells Fargo than REO properties in African-American and Latino neighborhoods. In addition to the $27 million to promote homeownership, Wells Fargo will pay $3 million to NFHA and the 13 fair housing organizations for costs and damages, including diversion of resources incurred in connection with the investigations, and attorney fees. Wells Fargo is also committing $300,000 for the two national conferences and $250,000 to NFHA and local fair housing centers to hold seminars and address delinquencies and foreclosures.
Furthermore, Wells Fargo will provide an additional $11.5 million to HUD to support neighborhoods in an additional 25 cities. Those cities are Austin, TX, Bakersfield, CA, Detroit, MI, Fort Lauderdale, FL, Fresno, CA, Houston, TX, Kansas City, MO, Las Vegas, NV, Los Angeles, CA, Memphis, TN, Modesto, CA, New York, NY, Phoenix, AZ, Riverside, CA, Sacramento, CA, San Antonio, TX, San Diego, CA, San Jose, CA, Santa Ana, CA, St. Louis, MO-IL, Stockton, CA, Tampa, FL, Vallejo, CA, Virginia Beach, VA, and West Palm Beach, FL.
The agreements between Wells Fargo, the private fair housing organizations, and HUD total more than $42 million and will provide direct assistance to 44 communities nationwide.
The National Fair Housing Alliance and 13 local fair housing organizations are represented by Joseph M. Sellers and Peter Romer-Friedman of Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll PLLC.
“This groundbreaking agreement is a testament to the fair housing movement’s vision and dedication to the promise of equality for all communities,” said Romer-Friedman, who represented the fair housing organizations in the matter. “This agreement will ensure that every community shares in the fruits of the housing recovery now underway.”
NFHA and its members have two similar housing discrimination complaints pending against US Bank and Bank of America, filed in April 2012 and September 2012 respectively.
“Other banks should follow Wells Fargo’s lead and engage in broad relief to communities damaged by the foreclosure crisis,” continued Shanna Smith. “This is a huge step in the right direction and more is needed to get our neighborhoods, especially communities of color, back on their feet.”
Michael Marsh, President/CEO of the Toledo Fair Housing Center concurred, “This agreement with Wells Fargo should encourage other banks, like Bank of America and US Bank to change their business practices. These institutions continue to auction thousands of homes across the country for pennies on the dollar to investors rather than offering them to homeowners. This continues to fuel the decline of property values in working class neighborhoods. The banks played a role in the foreclosure epidemic, now is the time for them to step up and play a leading role in the recovery of our neighborhoods.”
The Fair Housing Act makes it illegal to discriminate based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, disability or familial status, as well as the race or national origin of residents of a neighborhood. This law applies to housing and housing-related activities, which include the maintenance, appraisal, listing, marketing and selling of homes.
National Fair Housing Alliance (www.nationalfairhousing.org)
Founded in 1988, the National Fair Housing Alliance is a consortium of more than 220 private, non-profit fair housing organizations, state and local civil rights agencies, and individuals from throughout the United States. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., the National Fair Housing Alliance, through comprehensive education, advocacy and enforcement programs, provides equal access to apartments, houses, mortgage loans and insurance policies for all residents in the nation.
Toledo Fair Housing Center (www.toledofhc.org)
The Toledo Fair Housing Center has been a national leader in the fair housing movement since its inception 38 years ago. The Toledo Fair Housing Center was founded on the principles of community, inclusion and justice. The Center has demonstrated a talent for setting precedents that have expanded equal housing opportunities for millions of Americans. Since 1975, our agency has investigated over 11,000 complaints of housing discrimination and recovered over $29 million in damages for the victims.
The work that provided the basis for this publication was supported in part by funding under a grant with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The substance and findings of the work are dedicated to the public. The author and publisher are solely responsible for the accuracy of the statements and interpretations contained in this publication. Such interpretations do not necessarily reflect the views of the federal Government.
Toledo Fair Housing Names New CEODecember 11, 2012
Toledo Fair Housing Center
Appoints Michael P. Marsh New CEO
The Toledo Fair Housing Center, a non-profit civil rights agency, has announced that its new President and CEO is Michael P. Marsh. Mr. Marsh takes the leadership post on February 1, 2013, replacing Katherine Lawson Broka, who retires January 31, 2013. The Board of Directors conducted a national search that spanned a five-month period and voted unanimously to hire Mr. Marsh for the top executive post. Mr. Marsh is a Certified Fund Raising Executive who joined the Center in 1997 and currently serves as the agency’s Vice President, Development and Public Relations.
Marshall Rose, President and Chairman of the Board of Directors, states, “We were impressed by his dedication and commitment to the mission of ensuring and expanding equal housing opportunity in our community, as well as his strategic vision for the agency’s future. At this critical juncture in the agency’s existence, we believe Mr. Marsh possesses the background, knowledge and the leadership qualities that are necessary to lead the Toledo Fair Housing Center forward.”
Just this year, under Mr. Marsh’s direction, the Center raised an unprecedented $1.425 million in federal funding through the Fair Housing Initiatives Program. “These projects will direct the agency on a path of investigating systemic housing discrimination issues across many facets of the housing industry,” said Mr. Marsh, “including examining what responsibility lenders played in the foreclosure debacle and how we should hold them accountable for rebuilding and stabilizing our neighborhoods.”
Mr. Marsh brings to the position over 16 years of fair housing experience and an intricate knowledge of non-profit management, having completed the Certificate in Non-Profit Executive Leadership Program through Indiana University in 2011. He earned a Master of Arts degree in American Culture Studies and a Bachelor of Science in Journalism degree, both from Bowling Green State University.
“I first became aware of the Fair Housing Center in the mid 1990’s when I was working at the Toledo Board of Realtors and staffing their equal housing opportunity committee while also teaching a diversity course at BGSU,” said Mr. Marsh. He served under former Toledo Fair Housing Center President & CEO, Lisa Rice, for 10 years. Ms. Rice hired Mr. Marsh as the nation’s first full time resource development professional in a fair housing organization. She later moved on to become the Vice President of the National Fair Housing Alliance in Washington, DC.
Mr. Marsh was recently elected to a three-year term on the Board of Directors of the Ability Center of Greater Toledo, beginning January 1, 2013. “I want to more closely align the work of our agencies to ensure and expand equal housing opportunities for persons with disabilities,” he stated. For the fourth consecutive year, the most common type of housing discrimination alleged in Ohio was related to disabilities, according to a recent analysis by the Dayton Daily News.
About 57 million Americans have a disability, and people with disabilities are protected under the Fair Housing Act, which also prohibits housing discrimination based on sex, race, religion, color, national origin and family status. But some landlords, mortgage brokers and property managers are violating the law by denying or failing to properly accommodate injured veterans, aging baby boomers and residents with mental, physical or emotional disorders.
“I also plan to work at the national level to expand fair housing protection based on sexual orientation and gender identity. I currently serve on the National Enforcement Advisory Committee of the National Fair Housing Alliance,” explained Mr. Marsh. The National Fair Housing Alliance and other civil rights organizations have worked closely with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to ensure that protections from housing discrimination be extended to the nation’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender community. That happened under HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan’s leadership with the approval of new rules that prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in HUD-insured and HUD-assisted housing. “While some states and local jurisdictions cover sexual orientation and gender identity as protected classes, they have not been added as protected classes under the federal Fair Housing Act,” he explained.
“Michael’s passion is focused on issues of equity, opportunity and diversity,” said Mr. Rose. “The Board of Directors is confident in his ability to innovatively shape the future direction of the Toledo Fair Housing Center while maintaining a firm grasp on our history. Our agency is not just a local gem, but also a national treasure,” stated Mr. Rose.
The Women of the Old West End and several other concerned citizens and organizations established the Center in 1975 to combat discriminatory practices in housing that were destroying Toledo’s neighborhoods. Since its inception, the Center has investigated over 11,500 allegations of housing discrimination, has recovered over $27.82 million in damages for Toledo’s neighborhoods and victims of discrimination and has demonstrated a talent for setting national precedents that have expanded housing opportunities for millions of Americans across the country.
Toledo Fair Housing Center Applauds President Obama’s Appointment of Richard CordrayJanuary 04, 2012
Katherine Broka, President & CEO of the Toledo Fair Housing Center, issued the following statement today in anticipation of President Obama’s recess appointment of Richard Cordray as director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
“The President has courageously sided with Ohio’s residents and strengthened our nation’s financial marketplace by making a recess appointment of Richard Cordray to lead the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Former Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray is an exceptionally qualified nominee who has the intelligence and honesty to protect everyday Americans from the abuses that led to our current housing and financial crises. Mr. Cordray will fairly oversee the nation’s financial institutions to help restore our nation’s economic well being.
“While Mr. Cordray enjoys bipartisan support nationwide, many Senate Republicans continue to oppose his nomination despite our nation’s travails. They still side with Wall Street even though more than 2.7 million Americans who received mortgage loans between 2004 and 2008 have lost their homes to foreclosure. These high foreclosure rates are more a function of risky features of home loans that were made than any characteristics of the borrower.
“Wall Street disproportionately targeted communities of color for toxic mortgage loans. African-Americans and Latinos are 75 percent more likely to experience foreclosure. As a result of foreclosures creating depreciation in nearby properties alone, African American and Latino communities are expected to have lost more than $370 billion in wealth by year’s end. We need a tough ‘cop on the beat’ and we’ve got one in Richard Cordray.
“Congratulations to Mr. Cordray and to the American people.”
Longtime Fair Housing Board Member Passes AwayNovember 09, 2011
The Board of Directors and staff of the Toledo Fair Housing Center extend condolences to the family, friends and colleagues of our late Board Member, Ricky T. Walker, Sr. Mr. Walker served on the Board of Directors of the Fair Housing Center for many years. He leaves behind a legacy through his ongoing commitment to equal opportunity. Please click link below to read a touching article on the life of Mr. Walker.
New Officers Elected by Board of DirectorsOctober 25, 2011
New Board officers were elected at the Annual Meeting on October 12, 2011 as follows:
President and Chairman: Marshall Rose
First Vice President: Elizabeth Kollar
Second Vice President: Julia Bryant
Treasurer: Ann Hornstein
Secretary: John Widmer
New Toledo Fair Housing Center WebsiteOctober 11, 2011
We’ve just released the new Toledo Fair Housing Center website! Peruse and let us know what you think.
Fair Housing ActSeptember 23, 2011
On September 21, 2001, Assistant Secretary John Trasviña and President Julius Cartwright, National Association of Real Estate Brokers, signed a Memorandum of Understanding to enhance collaboration and partnership to help end discrimination by informing consumers in African American and other minority communities and public and private industry members about their fair housing rights and responsibilities under the Fair Housing Act. Under the MOU, HUD and NAREB will conduct joint seminars, workshops, and forums on ways to identify unlawful sales, rental and lending and related government contracting discrimination. Additionally, they will work together to educate people in all communities about their fair housing and related government contracting rights and avenues available to them should they experience discrimination.
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