Jul 13, 2018

With Justice Kennedy’s Retirement, Fair Housing in Peril:

            With Justice Kennedy’s retirement comes the possible overturning of decisions that will affect society broadly, one of them being Tex. Dep't of Hous. & Cmty. Affairs v. Inclusive Cmtys. Project, Inc., 135 S. Ct. 2507 (2015).  Kennedy was the swing vote that decided on “disparate impact”, which prohibits discrimination in housing when the discrimination is not intended. In Inclusive Community Projects housing waivers where being concentrated in minority and lower income neighborhoods which denied the recipients the benefits of being part of a more opportunists neighborhood.             Furthermore, under Secretary Carson HUD has said that they will reexamine their desperate impact rule. There is no need to do this as the SCOTUS has already adjudicated that this rule is constitutional. There are fears that if HUD stops or softens the enforcement of this rule legal battles will ensue. If these legal battles make their way to the SCOTUS, then it is possible that Inclusive Community Projects will be overturned without Kennedy’s swing vote. 

Rep. Maxine Waters takes strong stand for Fair Housing:

            Senator Maxine Water’s has introduced CRL, H.R. 6220., this bill is a response to the actions of Secretary of HUD Ben Carson.  Carson has proposed cutting the HUD budget by 1 billion dollars, increased rental fees, has removed fair housing language from their mission statement, and has suspended the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) rule. Senator Water’s proposed bill is intended to restore HUD’s fair housing agenda. This restoration entails: the adding the fair housing language to the mission statement, restoring “HUD’s AFFH rule as soon as practically possible following the bill’s enactment; HUD’s Local Government Assessment Tool that helps state and local jurisdictions to comply with the AFFH rule within 30 days of enactment; and a requirement that the HUD Secretary report to Congress a Secretary-directed review of fair housing complaints that involve an online platform, the addition of  an analysis of trends and risks related to discrimination, steps to address such discrimination, and the status of complaints filed. The legislation also includes a requirement that owners and operators of HUD-funded homeless shelters to post a notice informing clients of their rights under an agency rule regarding gender identity. This rule affects any grantee receiving funding through the agency’s Community Planning and Development program.”

Jul 9, 2017

At the housing project where Obama began his career, residents are filled with pride — and frustration:

What does the future hold to residents of the south side of Chicago who counted on former president Obama, where he made his first attempt at public service, helping a community in much need of services, and what if anything was done in the past eight years. The Altgeld’s residents remember the promises made eight years ago. The residents continue to be frustrated that Obama did not do more for the communities that helped his political career. They now are in fear of what may happen under President Trump, the future does not look good:

Nov 22, 2016

The importance of allowing cities to continue to enforce housing laws...

Banks continue to discriminate against minorities. Cities across the country suffer because of this institutional conduct. Cities should continue to enforce the housing laws against banks and insurance companies on behalf of its inhabitants.


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)