What's in the news?
Toledo Fair Housing Center Recognizes Supreme Court Victory for Equal OpportunityJune 26, 2015
EQUAL OPPORTUNITY SPECIALISTS
NATIONAL FAIR HOUSING ALLIANCE OPERATING MEMBER
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Sarah Jenkins
Director of Communications & Outreach, Toledo Fair Housing Center/NODA
Office: 419-243-6163 ext. 23
Toledo Fair Housing Center Recognizes Supreme Court Victory for Equal Opportunity
Decision Protects Americans from Unfair Housing Practices
Today the U.S. Supreme Court preserved a critical tool in the enforcement of fair housing in Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs v. The Inclusive Communities Project, Inc. In a 5-4 ruling, the Court reaffirmed the continuing importance of disparate impact, a key component of the Fair Housing Act which seeks to eliminate discriminatory housing practices that may be less apparent, but nevertheless have a detrimental effect. The decision upholds 45 years of legal precedent, and protects the principles of diversity and opportunity that are central to America’s identity.
Michael Marsh, President/CEO of Toledo Fair Housing Center, issued the following statement in response to this ruling:
“This is a tremendous victory for equal opportunity, and for the future of Northwest Ohio and our nation. A strong and effective Fair Housing Act will continue to move our country beyond a legacy of segregation and discrimination and toward opportunity for all. The Court recognizes the necessity of adopting inclusive practices that will lead to diverse, prosperous communities. This Supreme Court ruling will be instrumental in holding big banks accountable for their unfair lending practices that have had debilitating consequences for our local economy in recent years. That’s why many of them fought so hard to dismantle it.
Today’s decision is an endorsement of our efforts to eliminate barriers to fair housing, and ensure all individuals throughout Northwest Ohio have equal access to housing opportunities. We look forward to working with housing professionals and government leaders to enact policies that support housing free of discrimination. Housing opens the door to other opportunities, including quality education, employment options, and access to services and transportation. In creating inclusive communities of opportunity, Toledo Fair Housing Center seeks to improve quality of life by expanding access to housing.”
Homeownership Community CelebrationJune 17, 2015
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
What: Homeownership Community Celebration
When: Wednesday, June 17, 2015
News conference 10 a.m., Event 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Where: Courtyard of Justice
NODA/Toledo Fair Housing Center
432 N. Superior St.
Toledo, OH 43604
Mike Badik, President/CEO Northwest Ohio Development Agency (NODA)
Michael Marsh, President/CEO Toledo Fair Housing Center
Proclamation presented by Lucas County Commissioners
Proclamation presented by City of Toledo
Contact: Sarah Jenkins
Director of Communications & Outreach, Toledo Fair Housing Center/NODA
Office: 419-243-6163 ext. 23
Northwest Ohio Development Agency and Toledo Fair Housing Center
Host Homeownership Community Celebration
Celebrating the American Dream of Homeownership
Northwest Ohio Development Agency (NODA) and Toledo Fair Housing Center will be jointly hosting a Homeownership Community Celebration on Wednesday, June 17 from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m., in the Courtyard of Justice located at 432 N. Superior Street, with a news conference kicking off the event at 10 a.m. A free community celebration open to all, this event will recognize June as Homeownership Month and highlight the work of NODA and Toledo Fair Housing Center in supporting homeownership. Guests can enjoy food and refreshments, and resources will be available for those seeking assistance. The event is sponsored in part by Westfield Insurance.
Homeownership Month is an ideal opportunity to recognize the efforts of both NODA and Toledo Fair Housing Center in increasing and enhancing homeownership. NODA provides the educational tools to develop informed home buyers, and offers loan assistance to increase access to homeownership. Toledo Fair Housing Center seeks to eliminate the discriminatory practices that may prevent individuals from purchasing a home. Together, they work to ensure all individuals have equal access to housing opportunities. The agencies will also be honored with proclamations from the City of Toledo and Lucas County Commissioners.
Homeownership plays a vital role in our community, allowing individuals to pursue the American Dream and creating strong, stable neighborhoods. The housing industry has a significant impact on the overall economic health of our region, and home sales can positively influence job creation by stimulating activity in housing-related sectors such as real estate and construction.
NODA will also announce the Home Sweet Home Awards program, which celebrates beautification efforts made in targeted neighborhoods, recognizing homeowners for improvements to the aesthetic quality of their property.
Toledo Fair Housing Center Condemns House’s Multiple Assaults on Fair HousingJune 12, 2015
Director of Communications & Outreach, Toledo Fair Housing Center/NODA
Office: 419-243-6163 ext. 23
Toledo Fair Housing Center Condemns
House’s Multiple Assaults on Fair Housing
Funding Bill Attacks Local and National Efforts to Fight Discrimination
WASHINGTON, DC –The U.S. House of Representatives narrowly approved a funding bill late Tuesday that will prohibit local fair housing agencies and HUD from effectively enforcing the Fair Housing Act on multiple fronts. Lawmakers approved language that eliminates federal grant funding to local nonprofit fair housing centers making it easier for banks, landlords, and other housing providers to discriminate with impunity. The bill also included language blocking HUD’s nearly final Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) rule, and its disparate impact rule, both of which are important tools to stop illegal housing discrimination and promote safe and stable communities.
“This bill attempts to undermine all of our efforts to achieve justice for victims of discrimination and ensure that every neighborhood receives what it needs to thrive at a time when most Americans feel strongly that civil rights laws are critically important for our society”, said Shanna Smith, President and CEO of the National Fair Housing Alliance. “The AFFH rule, which is now being finalized by HUD, will help jurisdictions that willingly accept federal funds comply with their long-standing obligation to promote strong neighborhoods, and work to reverse entrenched patterns of residential segregation and the structural inequalities that they produce.”
“Local nonprofit fair housing centers investigate over two-thirds of all reported housing discrimination complaints and rely on federal dollars to root out and stop illegal practices. These groups help tens of thousands of people every year when they face barriers to fair housing. More than 3 million acts of housing discrimination occur each year, but the vast majority are never reported. Congress must support robust enforcement of the Fair Housing Act by expanding the resources available to local nonprofit fair housing groups that do the majority of the work to fight hidden discrimination and promote local policies to overcome the ugly legacy of segregation and concentrated poverty.”
HUD’s Disparate Impact rule, based on 45 years of legal precedent and upheld by 11 federal Circuit courts, was promulgated by HUD in response to calls from both the housing industry and civil rights groups for more clear guidelines on how to apply the legal standard. The disparate impact doctrine simply states that housing providers must use policies and practices that do not unnecessarily discriminate against people if there are other, less discriminatory, alternatives that achieve the same business goals. The rule provides helpful guidance for how to promote diverse, inclusive communities and help victims of domestic violence, families with children, people with disabilities and others access equal housing opportunities.
If these anti-fair housing bills are permitted to pass the Senate and are approved by President Obama, they could directly impact Toledo Fair Housing Center’s enforcement of fair housing laws. “This could reduce our funding, which would undermine our ability to assist victims of housing discrimination,” remarked Michael Marsh, President/CEO of Toledo Fair Housing Center. “By eroding the power to enforce fair housing laws, it essentially renders those laws meaningless. This opens the door for housing professionals to adopt discriminatory practices.”
Marsh continued, “As these bills proceed to the Senate and President Obama, we expect our government leaders to value the rights of Americans to have equal access to housing opportunities, and prevent these bills from weakening the laws that were put in place to protect those rights.”
Toledo Fair Housing Center 40th Anniversary Gala and WGTE Toledo Stories DocumentaryApril 21, 2015
CONTACT: Sena Mourad Friedman, Director of Development
419-243-6163 Ext. 12
WHO: Gustavo Velasquez, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity
Michael P. Marsh, President & CEO, Toledo Fair Housing Center
WHAT: Toledo Fair Housing Center 40th Anniversary Gala and WGTE Toledo
Stories Documentary Premiere, “The History of Toledo Fair Housing Center”
WHEN: 5:30 P.M. Thursday, April 23, 2015
WHERE: The Valentine Theatre, 401 Adams, Toledo, Ohio
WHY: PUBLIC ANNOUNCEMENT
Toledo Fair Housing Center officials are excited to welcome Gustavo Velasquez, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban development Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity to Toledo for the Toledo Fair Housing Center 40th Anniversary Gala and WGTE Toledo Stories Documentary Premiere at the Valentine Theatre on Thursday, April 23, 2015. Mr. Velasquez will be a featured speaker.
Gustavo Velasquez was nominated by President Obama and confirmed by the United States Senate to become Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Prior to his nomination, Velasquez was Executive Director of the Latino Economic Development Center (LEDC), a non-for-profit organization based in Washington, DC dedicated to serving thousands of Latinos and other immigrants and undeserved populations gain the necessary skills and capital to start and maintain their own businesses. LEDC also advocates for and supports communities to secure affordable and accessible housing. Prior to his tenure at LEDC, he served for seven (7) years as Director of the District of Columbia Office of Human Rights, where he led the enforcement provisions of the DC Human Right Act, considered one of the most comprehensive non-discrimination laws in the country. He also served between 2003 and 2007 as DC’s Director of the Office of Latino Affairs. During his District government career, Velasquez ensured that the very comprehensive civil rights of residents, workers and visitors to the Nation’s capital were protected and upheld according to the rule of law. Before his mayoral appointments in the District of Columbia government, Velasquez was Director of Operations and Director of the Division of Families and Neighborhood Development at Congreso de Latinos Unidos, the leading social service provider to Latinos in Philadelphia. In this capacity, he managed large-scale programs in the areas of housing counseling, workforce development, and financial capability for the most vulnerable communities of Philadelphia and its surrounding area. He has served on numerous boards and advisory groups at local and national levels, with an emphasis on civil rights and educational organizations, as well as issues for the advancement of Latinos in the United States. He attended the University of Pennsylvania where he graduated with a master’s degree in government administration. He lives in the District of Columbia with his wife, Emily, and his two children.
Foreclosure Prevention Data Analysis report for Lucas County 12/17/2014December 18, 2014
Toledo REO Report - as of 12/17/2014December 18, 2014
A New Day for the residents of Alpha Towers!November 04, 2014
When: Thursday, November 6, 2014 at 2:00 P.M.
What: A New Day for the residents of Alpha Towers!
Where: 525 E. Woodruff, Toledo Ohio (Alpha Towers, Community Center)
Who: Ann Longsworth Orr; NW OH Regional Representative
U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown
Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur
Mayor Michael D. Collins
Councilman Larry Sykes
Michael Marsh, President /CEO Toledo Fair Housing Center
Fred Mitchell, National Housing Preservation Fund
Dan Dawson, Alpha Phi Alpha
Ash Lemons, Ability Center of Greater Toledo
Justin Moor, Area Office on Aging of Northwest Ohio
Maurice M. McGough, Region V Director Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity
Contact: Michael P. Marsh 419-243-6163 Ext. 25
A New Day At Alpha Towers!
Residents of Alpha Towers Celebrate New Ownership and Management as Their Problems are Resolved
National Housing Preservation Fund, a joint sponsor by The NHP Foundation and Urban Atlantic along with National Church Residence are pleased to announce the rededication of Alpha Towers. The Toledo Fair Housing Center began working with the residents of Alpha Towers in 2012 by filing an official complaint with the US Housing and Urban Development (HUD) alleging discriminatory Housing practices. After a thorough and extensive investigation through HUD’s Fair Housing Enforcement Office and its Multifamily Office, Toledo Fair Housing Center negotiated a settlement with the previous management company.
The residents of Alpha Tower are pleased with the positive changes taking place. The tenants association held their first elections since the new ownership and management have taken over and a new president is in place. The bed bugs are under control, the elevator is fixed, accessibility policies are being defined, and a new service coordinator search is underway! The owners and management have made the residents feel as though their voices are finally being heard.
Michael P. Marsh, President & CEO of the Toledo Fair Housing Center, stated, “While there were some fair housing implications underlying the deplorable living conditions, our staff felt it was in our community’s best interest to work to clean up the property and improve the living conditions. This is part of our commitment to creating inclusive communities of opportunity. We are so pleased that it is a new day at Alpha Towers.”
NHP Foundation-Urban Atlantic Fund announced the acquisition of Alpha Towers, a 165-unit senior apartment community located in Toledo, Ohio, on August 15, 2014. The 9-story, mid-rise building, situated on 3 acres in downtown Toledo provides affordable housing for low- to moderate-income seniors. This is the fifth acquisition by the Fund.
Largest Property Preservation Company in Nation Accused of Housing DiscriminationApril 08, 2014
For Immediate Release
April 8, 2014
Contact: Deidre Swesnik
202-898-1661, ext. 131
Safeguard Properties Accused of Racial Discrimination in Maintenance of Foreclosed Homes in Dayton, Toledo, Baton Rouge, New Orleans, and Memphis
Today, the National Fair Housing Alliance (NFHA) and three of its member organizations announced an amended federal housing discrimination complaint against Safeguard Properties, headquartered in Ohio. Safeguard is the nation’s largest privately-held property preservation company, also known as a field service vendor. Fannie Mae hired Safeguard to maintain and market its bank-owned, foreclosed homes, also known as Real Estate Owned or REO properties.
This complaint, filed with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, is the result of an investigation into Safeguard Properties and its failure to maintain foreclosed homes in African-American and Latino neighborhoods as compared to White neighborhoods in a number of metropolitan areas nationwide. Today’s complaint presents new evidence from New Orleans and highlights the investigations in Dayton, Toledo, Baton Rouge, and Memphis. NFHA and its partner agencies filed their first complaint against Safeguard Properties in 2013. Failing to maintain homes based on the racial or ethnic composition of the neighborhood violates the federal Fair Housing Act.
Safeguard Properties was recently named in a report by the Federal Housing Finance Agency’s Office of the Inspector General, which described how the preservation companies that the OIG reviewed provided inaccurate information and manipulated photographs in their reports to Fannie Mae. The Illinois Attorney General also has a lawsuit pending against Safeguard.
“After we filed our first complaint against Safeguard Properties in March 2013, we met with them to outline the maintenance disparities in African-American and White neighborhoods,” said Shanna L. Smith, President and CEO of the National Fair Housing Alliance. “However, Safeguard claimed the examples of failed maintenance were isolated incidents and has continued in its failure to maintain properties in African-American and Latino neighborhoods.”
Safeguard is contracted to cover eight simple maintenance issues:
1. substantial accumulation of trash or debris;
2. overgrown grass/leaves;
3. overgrown or dead shrubbery;
4. invasive plants (covering 10% or more of the structure);
5. unsecured or broken doors;
6. unsecured or broken windows;
7. unsecured holes in the structure;
8. broken or missing steps and handrails.
NFHA, the Miami Valley Fair Housing Center in Dayton, OH, the Toledo Fair Housing Center, and the Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center described their findings in Dayton, Toledo, Baton Rouge, New Orleans, and Memphis. In all cities, the groups found significant amounts of trash, overgrown invasive plants, and unsecured holes in the building structures of homes in communities of color, while rarely finding the same problems in White neighborhoods.
NFHA and its member agencies are represented by Relman, Dane & Colfax PLLC located in Washington, D.C.
Detailed statistics and photos are available at www.nationalfairhousing.org.
NFHA has also filed complaints regarding the maintenance and marketing of foreclosed homes against Bank of America, Deutsche Bank, and US Bank. Many of the neighborhoods investigated overlap. Added together, the blight and damage caused to these communities by the banks is compounded. Health and safety risks increase because of accumulated trash and overgrown lawns attracting rodents and insects and broken windows and doors inviting vandalism.
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.
• 63% of properties that Safeguard serviced in African-American neighborhoods had three or more deficiencies compared to only 19% in White neighborhoods.
• 64% had substantial overgrowth of invasive plants, 55% had damaged steps or handrails, and 37% had unsecured holes in the building structures.
“It is inexcusable that a company that brags about being a ‘turnkey resource for all aspects of default property management’ would allow properties to be maintained in this fashion. Safeguard Properties claims to pride itself on its ‘attention to detail,’ but anyone who lives near or around a property maintained by Safeguard knows better,” said Jim McCarthy, President and CEO of the Miami Valley Fair Housing Center.
• 88% of properties that Safeguard serviced in African-American neighborhoods had three or more deficiencies, versus 24% in White communities.
• 75% had broken or unsecured doors, 50% had damaged steps or handrails, and 38% had unsecured holes in the building structures.
“We have seen a failure on the part of Safeguard to provide adequate maintenance of REO properties in communities of color. These communities were hardest hit by predatory lenders, then the foreclosure crisis, and now blighted REO properties. The lenders and the preservation companies, like Safeguard, played a role in the decline of the American dream; now they must play a role in neighborhood stabilization,” said Michael Marsh, President and CEO of the Toledo Fair Housing Center.
• Every Safeguard-serviced property in African-American neighborhoods had overgrown grass and leaves, and half had significant trash, compared to none in White neighborhoods.
• 78% of Safeguard-serviced properties in communities of color had significant trash accumulation, compared to 12% in White neighborhoods.
• 52% of properties in communities of color had overgrown or dead shrubbery, compared to 18% in White neighborhoods.
“You might assume that you’ve got a great neighbor in a company with a name like ‘Safeguard.’ But in Southeast Louisiana, we have found that having this company as your neighbor means you actually need to keep your guard up,” said James Perry, Executive Director of the Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center. “We have been fighting blight for years, but we never expected that neighborhoods of color would have to confront Safeguard for un-neighborly, value-depreciating antics like these. Today, we’re simply calling on Safeguard to step up to the plate and play fair in all New Orleans and Baton Rouge neighborhoods, regardless of their racial makeup.”
• 54% of properties serviced by Safeguard in neighborhoods of color had significant trash accumulation, compared to none in White neighborhoods.
• Almost half of Safeguard-serviced properties in neighborhoods of color had unsecured holes in the building structures.
• 37% had leaves and overgrown grass, and more than one-quarter had broken or unsecured windows.
“Buy a rake and clean it up, Safeguard. Fannie Mae is paying you enough to do something as simple as that,” said Shanna L. Smith, President and CEO of the National Fair Housing Alliance. “It is just shameful – not to mention illegal – that Safeguard blatantly disregards neighborhoods of color in Memphis by leaving a mess on the properties it claims to service. This creates an eyesore and damages the property values in these communities. ”
National Fair Housing Alliance
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
The Toledo Fair Housing Center’s mission is to eliminate practices of housing discrimination and expand equal housing opportunities. In fulfilling that mission, the Center has set many precedents and increased housing opportunities locally and nationally. The Center has been a leader in fair housing enforcement, having investigated over 11,000 complaints of discrimination and recovered over $30 million in damages.
Miami Valley Fair Housing Center
The Miami Valley Fair Housing Center is a comprehensive full-service fair housing center in Dayton, Ohio, with experience in auditing and testing activities, anti-predatory lending investigation and remedy, mortgage rescue scam intervention, foreclosure prevention counseling, and mortgage modifications, as well as fair housing and fair lending education and outreach. MVFHC works throughout the Miami Valley to eliminate housing discrimination and ensure equal housing opportunity for all people in its region.
Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center
The Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center (GNOFHAC) is a private, non-profit civil rights organization that was established in the summer of 1995 to eradicate housing discrimination throughout the greater New Orleans area through education, investigation, and enforcement activities. GNOFHAC is dedicated to fighting housing discrimination not only because it is illegal, but also because it is a divisive force that perpetuates poverty, segregation, ignorance, fear, and hatred.
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.
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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