Apr 22, 2016

DOJ continues to hold banks accountable for the 2008 financial crisis.

The Department of Justice holds Goldman Sachs accountable for their part in the lending collapse of 2008. The Department and Goldman agreed to $5.06 billion settlement.

          DOJ alleged that prior to 2008 Goldman Sachs was falsely assuring investors that the securities it was selling to them were backed by sound mortgages. These securities are referred to as Residential Mortgage Backed Securities (RMBS). Goldman Sachs was fully aware that the RMBS they were selling were not backed by sound mortgages. This illegal action led investors to buy these security-backed mortgages, which ultimately failed when the mortgagees defaulted on their mortgage payments. These continuous defaults from multiple pools of mortgages led to the housing bubble bursting. The banks were no longer bringing in money from the loans and the investors were losing their investments. Goldman Sachs’ actions cost both private and government entities billions.

          Goldman Sachs failure to do their required due diligence led to these illegal actions. Giant banks, such as Goldman Sachs, purchased these mortgages from smaller lending firms and banks and then became the creditor for the mortgagee. Goldman Sachs then sold securities backed by these mortgages. A practice that is common if they are backed by sound and quality loans. However, this is where Goldman Sachs failed in their due diligence. It was Goldman Sachs responsibility to do research on the loans before purchasing them. They were to test a portion of the loan pool to see if they were quality loans. Testing a portion is common in the industry because testing all of the loans would be highly economically inefficient. Goldman Sachs tested these loan pools, however in pools where there were high levels of quality questions, instead of doing further testing and research, they passed the loans through. This led to a large amount of poor quality loans being used to back the securities that Goldman Sachs was selling to these investors. This action is illegal and led directly to the crashing of the housing market and costing the investors and the government billions. Goldman Sachs knew that there were issues with a portion of the loans they were using to back securities and yet they did it anyways.
         
          The Justice Department in accompaniment with state and federal partners has led the charge to bring banks such as Goldman Sachs to justice. They did so with Goldman Sachs with the largest settlement today, $5.06 billion, to be parted three ways. The first $2.385 billion will be used to pay the fines under the Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery, and Enforcements Act (FIRREA). The next $1.8 billion will be used to help those that have suffered from the housing crisis. It will be used to help those that are underwater on their mortgages, restructuring other mortgages, and the forgiveness of mortgage loans all together. The last $875 million will be used to pay settlements with federal and state entities.


          DOJ sees this as a step in the right direction to bringing responsible parties to justice. With the successes of the cases against JP Morgan Chase and now Goldman Sachs, DOJ and those involved are confident that it is holding parties responsible for the 2008 disaster. The recession that was primarily caused by the burst of the housing market bubble. DOJ has dedicated itself to holding these banks and firms responsible for their actions since the bubble burst in 2008. https://www.rt.com/usa/339247-goldman-sachs-settlement-mortgages/

48 years of Prohibiting Discrimination

48 years of Prohibiting Discrimination
Forty-eight years ago this month, on April 11, 1968, President Lyndon Johnson signed the federal Fair Housing Act, which prohibited discrimination concerning the sale, rental, and financing of housing based on race, religion, national origin, sex, handicap and family status. This important law also made it unlawful for a housing provider to make, print or publish any statement or advertisement that states a preference based on these classes. Let us not forget this eventful day by reminding people we know of the current state of the law and the  rights afforded to victims of discrimination.  http://www.oak-park.us/news/april-fair-housing-month

Sep 1, 2015

The clash between disability law, medical marijuana law and criminal law--what gives?

In a case of first impression the District Court of the Eastern District of Michigan ruled that a recipient of a legal medical card to use marijuana for medical purposes was not entitle to a reasonable accommodation under the Fair Housing Act and that the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act was preempted by the Controlled Substance Act.
The Plaintiff suffered from Multiple Sclerosis and received social security supplemental income. The Plaintiff’s doctor prescribed medical marijuana to help with her symptoms. The state of Michigan provided Plaintiff with a medical marijuana card pursuant to the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act. 

Plaintiff began smoking marijuana in her apartment. The landlord filed for eviction due to her smoking. Plaintiff requested reasonable accommodations under the Fair Housing Act. The complex is  project-based, Section 8, federally assisted and the lease states that Defendant “may terminate the agreement for various reasons, including: drug-related criminal activity engaged in on or near the premises by any Resident, household member, or guest, or any such activity engaged in on the premises by any other person under the Resident’s control; “if the landlord determines that the Resident, any member of the Resident’s household, a guest or another person under the Resident’s control has engaged in the criminal activity, regardless of whether the Resident, any member of the Resident’s household, a guest or another person under the Resident’s control has been arrested or convicted for such activity.” Forest City Residential Management v. Lashawn Beasley and Eugene Kenyon, Case No. 13-14547 (E.D. Mich. 2014)

Jun 25, 2015


The question of whether "disparate impact" is a legal
and valid theory of discrimination under the Fair
housing Act is finally answered by our highest Court:


The Supreme Court in, TEXAS DEPARTMENT OF
HOUSING AND COMMUNITY AFFAIRS ET AL. v.
INCLUSIVE COMMUNITIES PROJECT, INC., ET
AL., affirmed that the Fair Housing Act of 1968 as Amended
in 1988, does allow not only claims for intentional
discrimination but also for claims that cover practices that
have a discriminatory effect even if not motivated by an
intent to discriminate.

http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/06/25/us-usa-court-discrimination-idUSKBN0P51UO20150625

Feb 17, 2015

THE PUBLIC IS STILL WAITING FOR DISTRIBUTION OF THE FUNDS COLLECTED IN ANTI-DISCRIMINATION HOUSING CASE IN NY

The Anti-Discrimination Center of Metro New York has repeatedly sued private landlords and, in its most high-profile case, sued Westchester County, NY, for violating federal racial equality laws. Of the millions of dollars awarded to the ADC, it appears that ADC has not distributed any of the proceeds to develop affordable housing in the past five years.
“It’s frightening to think that there are self-deputized social-equity arbiters who are running around bringing costly racial quota lawsuits against communities that taxpayers have to fund,” said Mike Stenhouse, founder of the Rhode Island Center for Freedom and Prosperity. “The end result is that they can grab millions in taxpayer dollars in a judgment and keep it to themselves rather than spending it on the cause that they claim they are promoting.” www.watchdog.org
http://watchdog.org/199374/non-profit-hoards-millions/

Dec 2, 2014

The District Court for the District of Columbia has Ruled on HUD’s Disparate Impact Regulation



The HUD regulation dealing with the theory of discrimination under “disparate impact” was reviewed and ruled on by Judge Richard J. Leon, for the District of Columbia. He ruled that the administration cannot rely on "disparate impact" to judge discrimination. This is another attack on the theory and civil rights groups that use the theory to sue parties when there is no overt intentional discrimination.
Judge Leon went on to criticize the administration , Judge Leon said the administration's bid to establish disparate impact as a legitimate measure of discrimination showed "hutzpah (bordering on desperation)." "This is yet another example of an administrative agency trying desperately to write into law that which Congress never intended to sanction," Judge Leon wrote in a scorching opinion that described Obama administration attorneys' arguments as "nothing less than an artful misinterpretation" of the law.
HUD’s position in passing the regulation is that Congress authorized disparate impact analysis in the Fair Housing Act.

Aug 25, 2014

HUD charges Kent State University with housing discrimination over denial of a student's right to keep a therapy dog in university housing


The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) charged Kent State University (KSU) and four employees with violating the Fair Housing Act after they denied a student's request to keep a therapy dog in a university apartment for emotional support.
The student suffers from "panic disorder and anxiety" and needs the support animal to function in school.
In a press release, the HUD Assistant Secretary said that "Many people with disabilities rely on therapy animals to enhance their quality of life". "The Fair Housing Act protects their right to a service animal and HUD is committed to taking action whenever the nation's fair housing laws are violated," Velazquez said.
In contrast, the university released the following statement Tuesday afternoon: "Kent State University is aware of the charges stemming from claims made several years ago.  Helping our students succeed remains a top priority, and we look forward to discussing the facts of this case at the appropriate time."
A letter from the psychologist, quoted by HUD, stated that the student had benefited greatly in the past from having a pet, and requested that the university "take into consideration her [the student's] mental health disorder when considering her request."

The student seeks $16,000 in civil damages from the university and each person named in the charges. The agency said that the charge will be refer to a federal administrative law judge for hearing or if any of the parties choose to have the case heard in federal district court, the case will be heard be a federal judge.