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Housing Authority approves rent reform study
     (LOUISVILLE, Ky., Aug. 20, 2014) -- Some Section 8 Louisville recipients will soon be asked to begin paying a minimum rent of $50 a month.
     The board of commissioners for the Louisville Metro Housing Authority unanimously approved a rent reform study Tuesday that will initiate a minimum rent for selected residents for the first time. However, unlike the controversial original proposal, those selected will be able to opt out.
     The authority originally proposed a rent reform study that included a $75 minimum rent, did not allow recipients to opt out of the study, and stripped those participating of all deductions including the one parents can use for childcare that can lower the level of income used to determine their rent.
     The revised rent reform study allows residents to opt out, reduces the minimum rent by $25, and excludes those who currently receive the childcare deduction from the group eligible for the study. About 10 percent of those eligible for the study currently receive the deduction. FULL STORY at courier-journal.com

Kent State accused of housing discrimination
     (KENT, Ohio, Aug. 20, 2014) -- Government officials are accusing Ohio’s Kent State University of housing discrimination, alleging it refused to let a student with disabilities keep a dog as an emotional support animal in her campus apartment.
     The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development announced the charges Tuesday against the university and four employees. The complaint says the student got a dog in 2009 to help with panic and anxiety disorders.
     A department statement says the Fair Housing Act makes it illegal to refuse to make reasonable accommodations in policies or practices when a person with a disability requires it.
      FULL STORY at indeonline.com

Freedom Mortgage settles federal bias case
     (MOUNT LAUREL, N.J., Aug. 13, 2014) -- A Mount Laurel-based mortgage firm will pay $104,000 to settle claims it discriminated against loan applicants with disabilities.
     HUD officials alleged the company's actions violated the Fair Housing Act, which outlaws discrimination in the sale, rental, and financing of dwellings or other housing-related transactions based on disability and other factors.
     "Applicants who are otherwise qualified for a home loan may not have additional requirements placed on them because of a disability," said Gustavo Velasquez, HUD's Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity.
     He said Freedom Mortgage "is making a commitment to comply with its obligation to treat persons with disabilities the same way they treat those not disabled." FULL STORY at courierpostonline.com

One of the best ways to fight inequality in cities: zoning
     (WASHINGTON, Aug. 13, 2014) -- As affordable housing becomes an ever more prominent progressive cause – thanks to economic segregation, a broad swell in housing prices and rising rents in the neighborhoods where progressive media people hang out – some rather odd fault lines are forming.
     Some writers and activists have decided that a policy agenda associated with race equality activists since the 1960s is, in fact, the province of – to quote a Gawker piece from July – “tech bloggers, Redditors, Hacker News trolls, and politically-connected venture capitalists.”
     The policy in question is easing the laws that make it illegal to build more housing, otherwise known as zoning. Opponents see this as an easy way for developers to build yuppie condos and cafes with $4 toast. FULL STORY at washingtonpost.com

NFHA links residential segregation to financial discrimination
     (WASHINGTON, Aug. 13, 2014) -- Today, the National Fair Housing Alliance (NFHA) released its 2014 Fair Housing Trends Report, “Expanding Opportunity: Systemic Approaches to Fair Housing”. The report highlights how the federal government and nonprofit organizations have increased systemic fair housing enforcement through broad-based approaches and traditional case-by-case practices. The report also peers into housing discrimination on a regional level, drawing connections between the rate of segregation and the level of reported housing discrimination.
     According to report results, fair housing complaints, amounting to 27,352 in 2013, have remained relatively steady compared to recent years. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development estimates that the number of reported complaints represents less than one percent of the four million instances of housing discrimination that occur each year. FULL STORY at valuewalk.com

Faisal defends record, promises improvement
     (BOSTON, Mass., Aug. 13, 2014) -- Controversial Boston landlord Anwar N. Faisal said he was disappointed to be accused of being one of the city’s worst slumlords, but told the city council on Wednesday that he is taking major strides to improve the maintenance of his apartments and to be more responsive to tenants’ concerns.
     In his first public remarks since a Globe Spotlight series identified him as one of the most complained-about landlords who cater to college students, Faisal said that he recently hired a half dozen new maintenance employees and started sending inspectors to the more than 1,000 apartment units he controls in the city.
     But Faisal rejected any suggestion that he deliberately ignores tenant concerns or that his company, Alpha Management Corp., discriminates against potential tenants based on race, a charge that Attorney General Martha Coakley is currently investigating. FULL STORY at bostonglobe.com

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