Settlement: Architect Will Pay For Retrofit Of Properties Inaccessible To The Disabled

By KIMBERLEY HAAS Eight senior living facilities that are inaccessible to the disabled will be retrofitted as part of a settlement between officials at the U.S. Justice Department and a New Jersey architecture firm. According to a press release issued on Thursday, the owner of J. Randolph Parry Architects P.C. has agreed to settle a federal lawsuit alleging that it violated the Fair Housing Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act by failing to design and construct senior living facilities that are accessible to people with disabilities. The retrofits will, among other things, make the kitchens and bathrooms at these properties more accessible and useable. “The Justice Department is committed to vigorously enforcing the federal laws guaranteeing people with disabilities…

$3.3 Million In Funding Available To Combat COVID-19 Housing Discrimination

By KIMBERLEY HAAS Officials at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development are making an additional $3,285,353 in American Rescue Plan funding available to help fight housing discrimination related to the COVID-19 pandemic. The announcement was made on Tuesday and according to a press release, this is the third round of American Rescue Plan funding that targets COVID-19 related discrimination. About $16.1 million in funding has been awarded to 62 HUD Fair Housing Initiatives Program agencies to address the impact the pandemic has had on communities of color, low-income communities, and other vulnerable populations. Demetria L. McCain, HUD’s Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity, said in a statement that the COVID-19 pandemic continues to reveal…

Disability Discrimination Alleged In Hawaii

By KIMBERLEY HAAS Officials at the U.S. Department of Justice are claiming that condominiums and apartment complexes in Hawaii were built without accessible features required by the Fair Housing Act. The federal act prohibits discrimination in housing on the basis of disability, race, color, religion, sex, familial status, and national origin. An amended complaint was filed Monday at the U.S. District Court for the District of Hawaii. Two of the five properties cited were built with financial assistance from the federal government’s Low-Income Housing Tax Credit program. They are Kahului Town Terrace, in Kahului, Maui, and Palehua Terrace, in Kapolei, Oahu.  The other three properties are Napilihau Villages and Napili Villas, in Lahaina, Maui, as well as Wailea Fairway Villas,…

Biden-Harris Tackle Equity In Lending And Appraisals

By KIMBERLEY HAAS Vice President Kamala Harris joined officials from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development on Wednesday to announce the delivery of a plan designed to dismantle racial bias in the home lending and appraisal process. The Interagency Task Force on Property Appraisal and Valuation Equity (PAVE) Action Plan submitted to President Joe Biden will, when enacted, represent the most wide-ranging set of reforms ever put forward to advance equity in the home appraisal process, according to a press release. During her speech, Harris described how a home ensures future financial security and peace of mind for families. “Imagine a young couple that saves enough money to put a down payment on a home. The day they…

Unfair Discrimination In Consumer Finance Targeted

By KIMBERLEY HAAS The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is targeting discrimination and officials there plan to closely examine financial institutions’ decision-making practices to ensure companies are appropriately testing for and eliminating potential harm to customers. On Wednesday, an updated exam manual was published for evaluating unfair, deceptive, and abusive acts or practices. Officials said in a press release that discrimination can occur in cases where the conduct may be covered by the Equal Credit Opportunity Act – a fair lending law that covers extensions of credit – as well as instances where it does not. The example of being denied a checking account due to race was used as an example of a discriminatory practice. “When a person is denied…

Getting Pushed Out Of The Housing Market? You’re Not Alone

By KIMBERLEY HAAS Low-income and minority buyers will continue to be crowded out of the housing market in 2022, according to the director of research at the AEI Housing Center. The American Enterprise Institute is located in Washington, D.C., and during a webinar on Monday, Director of Research Tobias Peter said entry-level homebuyers are being replaced by borrowers with higher incomes in many markets. “When we tally up the entry-level share of all home sales, we’re finding that the entry-level, as of December of 2021, accounted for 52.7%, which is, of course, much down from before the pandemic. In December of 2019, it was at 59.9%, and when we started tracking this back in 2012, it was at 71%,” Peter…