Since its founding, the Center has operated as one of the most progressive and effective proponents of fair housing, leading national efforts and setting precedents that have markedly improved the quality of life for millions of Americans.

Founded on the principles of community, tolerance, and justice, The Fair Housing Center was established in 1975 to assist victims of housing discrimination. The Women of the Old West End, The League of Women Voters, and several other concerned citizens and community groups organized to fight blockbusting and other discriminatory practices that were destroying Toledo’s neighborhoods.

Throughout its history, the Center has been a leader in fair housing enforcement, having investigated more than 12,000 complaints of discrimination and recovered in excess of $33.3 million in damages for victims and neighborhood reinvestment. Its staff has conducted workshops for fair housing organizations, government agencies, and housing industry professionals. In addition, the Center’s staff is regularly called upon by the US Congress to submit testimony regarding discriminatory housing practices.

Landmark Cases

TFHC uncovered inequities in KeyBank’s lending patterns, resulting in an agreement to expand access to homeownership and banking services in Toledo’s traditionally underserved communities. This long-term effort will help ensure that low-to-moderate income neighborhoods and communities of color have the chance to pursue the American Dream. The plan addresses our community’s needs though a multifaceted approach that includes $3 million in funding to Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs).

TFHC joined the National Fair Housing Alliance and twelve additional fair housing organizations to enter into the first-ever agreement regarding the equal maintenance and marketing of Real Estate Owned (REO) homes. The complaint alleged that Wells Fargo’s properties in white neighborhoods were better maintained and marketed than properties in African-American and Latino neighborhoods. Toledo received $1.4 million in community relief funds, which TFHC used to establish the MLK Inclusive Communities Program. In an effort to preserve homeownership, the program included financial assistance for foreclosure prevention, a partnership with the LandBank for roof replacements, and a partnership with the Ability Center for home accessibility modifications.

TFHC entered into an agreement with a local suburban municipality regarding a reasonable accommodation request in zoning. Along with monetary relief totaling over $100,000 for the named complainants in the case, the agreement also stipulates that all licensed group homes moving into the township within the next 99 years will receive a 10-year property tax abatement.

TFHC entered into partnerships with companies including State Farm, Allstate, Nationwide, Liberty Mutual, and Farmers Insurance. Through these agreements, insurers altered their underwriting guidelines, which had a disparate impact on African American and Latino neighborhoods. The partnerships have resulted in over $10 million in investments in Toledo’s urban communities.

TFHC assisted Preferred Properties, Inc., a nonprofit that develops and manages rental housing for persons with disabilities, in filing this case. In March 2000, a federal jury awarded Preferred Properties a total of $156,000 and found that a local developer should have sold land to Preferred Properties to be developed as housing for persons with disabilities. This was the largest jury award of punitive damages in a fair housing case in Northwest Ohio.

TFHC joined the National Fair Housing Alliance to settle systemic complaints filed with HUD against the nation’s largest homeowners insurance agency. This precedent-setting agreement has changed the way homeowners insurance is written throughout the country.

The first complaint filed against an insurance company based on testing evidence. The complaint was settled in 1998.

The federal court set the precedent for acceptable and unacceptable standards for “significant services and facilities” for senior citizen housing complexes.

This case set a national precedent by providing free rental units for the homeless.

The standards for establishing a prima facie neighborhood redlining complaint were decided in this case, which was successfully litigated by Steve Dane.

The highest award ever granted in a racial harassment case was ordered by then Magistrate Carr. This complaint, litigated by C. Thomas McCarter, resulted in a $625,000 award and a prison sentence for Mr. Taberner.

TFHC investigated and litigated the nation’s first sexual harassment housing complaint. The complaint, successfully litigated by C. Thomas McCarter, clearly established sexual harassment as a violation of the Fair Housing Act.

TFHC and the Greater Toledo Housing Coalition filed the country’s first challenge under the Community Reinvestment Act with the Federal Home Loan Bank Board. The protest filed against First Federal Savings and Loan prompted fair lending awareness among the banking community and resulted in a conditioned approval of the lender’s application.

The first lending redlining lawsuit is successfully litigated in Toledo by Joe Tafelski.

I honestly did not know that in the fair housing world, The Fair Housing Center is the center of the universe.

Diana Patton, Social Justice and Integrative Health Advocacy Coach
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