News

The Fight for LGBT Rights Has Moved to the Suburbs

9/24/2018

PHOTO: Charlie Craig and David Mullins at their suburban Westminster, Colorado home in 2014. Brennan Linsley/AP

Many Americans still associate LGBTQ life with urban “gayborhoods.” But the Masterpiece Cakeshop case highlights how sexual diversity in suburbia is growing.

Click here to read the full article

Wetzel v. Glen St. Andrew Living Cmty., LLC, No. 17-1322, 2018 WL 4057365, at *1 (7th Cir. Aug. 27, 2018)

9/14/2018

“St. Andrew agrees that our ruling in Hively v. Ivy Tech Community College of Indiana, 853 F.3d 339 (7th Cir. 2017) (en banc), holding that discrimination based on sexual orientation qualifies as discrimination based on sex under Title VII, applies with equal force under the FHA.”

Click here to read the Seventh District Court decision

Appeals Court: Fair Housing Act Protects Against Sexual Orientation Discrimination

9/14/2018

The decision issued Monday is an important step forward in clarifying fair housing protections for LGBTQ people.

Click here to read the Rewire news article

Taking Sexual Harassment Seriously: Tips for Nonprofits

8/13/2018

[Photo]This woman says employees of a North Carolina housing agency assaulted her. She did not want her face shown. Photo by Jessica Lussenhop for the BBCSexual harassment is a topic that’s not often addressed in the community development field, but it should be.

Staci Berger was revolted when she read Jessica Lussenhop’s account of women who were sexually harassed, threatened, and assaulted at the hands of employees of a nonprofit housing agency in North Carolina. “It was like a kick in the gut just to read it,” recalls Berger, who is the executive director of the Housing and Community Development Network of New Jersey. When a predator “has a key to your house, the place that’s supposed to be most safe . . . It’s just evil.”

Click here to read the Shelter force article

A Cruel Choice—Sexual Favors for Housing

8/13/2018

Across the U.S., sexual harassment and assault at the hands of landlords, property managers, and others in the housing industry can drive poor women and their children into homelessness. It is a problem badly understood and virtually unstudied.

Click here to read the Shelterforce article

Lesbian couple denied housing in Sunset Hills senior living community, lawsuit claims

7/27/2018

ST. LOUIS • A St. Louis County senior community has denied housing to a married lesbian couple who have been together for nearly four decades because of the couple’s sexual orientation, according to a lawsuit filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court.

Mary Walsh, 72, and Bev Nance, 68, both of Shrewsbury, say the Friendship Village senior living community, which has locations in Sunset Hills and Chesterfield, denied occupancy to them to live at the Sunset Hills community in 2016 because their relationship violated its cohabitation policy that defines marriage as “the union of one man and one woman, as marriage is understood in the Bible,” according to the lawsuit.

The case may mark the latest front-line legal clash in deciding questions of sex discrimination and religious freedoms, legal observers say.

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Justice Department Launches Public Awareness Campaign with Victims of Sexual Harassment in Housing

7/23/2018

The Department of Justice today announced the release of a public service announcement (PSA) aimed at raising awareness and reaching victims of sexual harassment in housing. To enhance the effectiveness of the campaign, the Department has enlisted the assistance of victims to share their experiences and help convey the message that sexual harassment in housing is a violation of civil rights.

Click here to view the DOJ PSA video

Justice Department files suit against Cullman landlord alleging sexual harassment

7/09/2018

The Justice Department has filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against the owner of a Cullman rental property alleging his actions violated the Fair Housing Act, the Department announced Monday [July 9, 2018].

The Department names Randy Hames and his rental property company, Hames Marina, LLC as defendants in the lawsuit.

Click here to read the Alabama Local article.

Fight sexual harassment in housing

6/18/2018

Fifty years ago this year, President Lyndon Johnson signed the Fair Housing Act into law. The act bans discrimination in housing based on race, religion, national origin, sex, disability and family status. The president noted that the Fair Housing Act “Proclaims that fair housing for all — all human beings who live in this country — is now a part of the American way of life.” Unfortunately for some, this ideal has fallen short. 

click here to read the Detroit News article

HUD joins initiative to combat sexual harassment in housing Forms interagency task force with Justice Department

6/05/2018

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development announced it is recognizing the 50th anniversary of the Fair Housing Act with its new initiative to increase awareness and reporting of sexual harassment in housing.

The new initiative with the U.S. Department of Justice, announced by HUD Secretary Ben Carson and Attorney General Jeff Sessions, will create an interagency task force to combat sexual harassment in housing. It also includes an outreach toolkit and a public awareness campaign.

To read Housing Wire's full article click here

#MeToo spreads to housing: Bay Area renters accuse landlords of sexual harassment

6/05/2018

Photo credit: Ray Chavez/Bay Area News Group
While the #MeToo movement has shed light on workplace sexual harassment in California’s technology sector, entertainment industry, politics and beyond, little attention is paid to the same abuses between landlords and tenants. But tenants-rights lawyers say the harassment Bay Area women are reporting — from unwanted touching to offers of free rent in exchange for sex — is particularly chilling because it involves someone with keys to the victim’s home and the power to take that home away. And with local rent prices soaring, many women can’t put an end to the harassment by moving out, because they can’t afford to live anywhere else.

Click here to read the Mercury News article

HUD Reaches Agreements with Florida, Virginia and California Landlords Settling Claims of Sexual Harassment in Housing

5/08/2018

WASHINGTON - Today, [April 30, 2018] the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced three settlements of claims involving allegations of sexual harassment totaling approximately $125,000 in relief for complainants.

Click here to read HUD's press release

Justice Department Announces Nationwide Initiative to Combat Sexual Harassment in Housing

4/23/2018

Photo by Lum3n.com from Pexels

Today, [Tuesday, April 12, 2018] as the Department of Justice recognizes the 50th Anniversary of the Fair Housing Act, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the nationwide rollout of an initiative aimed at increasing awareness and reporting of sexual harassment in housing. The announcement includes an interagency task force between the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the Justice Department to combat sexual harassment in housing, an outreach toolkit, and a public awareness campaign. This three-pronged approach will strengthen the Department’s efforts to combat sexual harassment in housing.

Click here to read more from the DOJ

Justice Department Files Sexual Harassment Lawsuit Against Owners and Managers of New York Rental Properties

4/18/2018

Photo by Chris Schippers from Pexels

The Justice Department announced today [April 11, 2018] that it has filed a lawsuit alleging that Douglas S. Waterbury, a residential property owner and landlord in the Oswego, New York, area subjected female tenants and potential tenants to egregious sexual harassment in violation of the Fair Housing Act.  Along with Douglas Waterbury, the Department’s complaint names his wife and business partner, Carol A. Waterbury, and two residential property companies, Ontario Realty Inc. and E&A Management Co., as defendants. 

Click here to read the DOJ Press release

The Fight for Fair Housing’s Forgotten #MeToo Chapter

4/16/2018

In 1982, Tammy Shellhammer, a young white woman, walked into the Toledo Fair Housing office because she felt she was the victim of discrimination by her landlord, Norman Lewallen. In their interactions, Lewallen was sexually aggressive with her and had begun to demand that she pose for nude photos, perform oral sex, or have intercourse with him. When she repeatedly refused, Lewallen evicted Tammy and her husband. Tammy suspected she was not the only woman in the building who had been harassed, but worried no one would come forward to fear of losing their place to live. 

Click here to read the full story

DOJ's Sexual Harassment in Housing Initiative (SHHI)

3/22/2018

In October [2017], the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division announced the Sexual Harassment in Housing Initiative (SHHI). The initiative specifically seeks to increase the Department’s efforts to protect individuals from harassment by landlords, property managers, maintenance workers, security guards, and other employees and representatives of rental property owners.  In 2017, the Justice Department recovered more than $1 million in damages for harassment victims.

Click here for more about the DOJ Sexual Harassment in Housing Initiative

Click here for DOJ Press Releases & Recent Cases regarding SHHI


Justice Department Obtains $625,000 Settlement Of Sexual Harassment Lawsuit Against Two St. Louis Landlords

3/22/2018

The Justice Department today announced a settlement with two St. Louis landlords, Hezekiah and Jameseva Webb, to resolve a lawsuit alleging that they violated the Fair Housing Act by subjecting fifteen female tenants in their rental properties to sexual harassment over the course of two decades.

In October, the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division announced the Sexual Harassment in Housing Initiative (SHHI). The initiative specifically seeks to increase the Department’s efforts to protect individuals from harassment by landlords, property managers, maintenance workers, security guards, and other employees and representatives of rental property owners.  In 2017, the Justice Department recovered more than $1 million in damages for harassment victims. This is the first settlement announcement in 2018.

Click here to read DOJ's announcement

Click here to read the Settlement Agreement

US Court Considers Potentially Landmark LGBT Housing Case

3/16/2018

By MICHAEL TARM, AP Legal Writer

A court has heard oral arguments in a 70-year-old's potentially landmark case alleging a Chicago-area senior living center did nothing to stop residents from hurling slurs and spitting on her because of her sexual orientation.

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Colorado Fair Housing Act ruling mirrors decision by Seventh Circuit in breakthrough sex discrimination case

3/16/2018

An April [2017] decision by a Colorado U.S. district court judge extended the Fair Housing Act (FHA) to include prohibiting discrimination against gays, lesbians and transgender people, mirroring a landmark ruling in Chicago's Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals regarding discrimination.

by Kacie Whaley | Jun. 5, 2017, 12:29pm

Click here to read the full article

A Woman's Choice - Sexual Favours or Lose Her Home

1/18/2018

By Jessica Lussenhop BBC News, North Carolina,11 January 2018

"Across the US, sexual harassment at the hands of landlords, property managers and others in the housing industry can drive poor women and their children into homelessness. It is a problem badly understood and virtually unstudied."

 Click here to read the full article.

Metropolitan Fair Housing Council of Oklahoma Announces $800,000 Sexual Harassment Lawsuit Settlement

12/11/2017

Today, the Metropolitan Fair Housing Council of Oklahoma, Inc. (MFHC, Inc.) announced a settlement of $800,000 of a sexual harassment lawsuit by a Consent Decree, signed by the Honorable Chief Judge Joe Heaton, United States District Court of the Western District of Oklahoma on December 7, 2017. 
Click here to read the press release.
Click here to read the consent decree and complaint.

HUD Charges Kansas Property Owners with Housing Discrimination After Alleged Sexual Harassment of Two Female Tenants

12/04/2017

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced today it is charging the owner and landlord of several rental properties in Wichita, Kansas, and his wife, who co-owned one of the properties, with housing discrimination after the landlord allegedly sexually harassed two female tenants at his properties. HUD’s charge further alleges that he also made discriminatory statements based on one of the women’s race.  Click here to read HUD's press release..

Federal Judge Rules That the Fair Housing Act Protects LGBTQ People

11/17/2017

U.S. District Judge Raymond P. Moore concluded that the FHA’s ban on sex discrimination prohibited discrimination against a same-sex couple, one of whom is trans. His decision marks the first time a federal court has applied the FHA to anti-LGBTQ discrimination.

Click here to read the full article.

Associate Attorney General Rachel Brand on How the Justice Department Is Trying to Fight Sexual Harassment in Housing

11/06/2017

Under the Fair Housing Act, sexual harassment and abuse in housing is illegal. But many women don’t know that’s the case — and so never report it. That’s where a new Department of Justice initiative comes in. Earlier this month, the department’s civil rights division launched a program to encourage more women to report harassment and abuse from landlords, property managers, and other rental property staff, and created a new reporting pipeline that brings local law enforcement together with Justice Department officials.

Click here to read the full interview.

Justice Department Announces Initiative to Combat Sexual Harassment in Housing

10/31/2017

The Justice Department today announced a new initiative to combat sexual harassment in housing.  The initiative specifically seeks to increase the Department’s efforts to protect women from harassment by landlords, property managers, maintenance workers, security guards, and other employees and representatives of rental property owners.

The Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division enforces the Fair Housing Act, which prohibits discrimination in housing on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, familial status, national origin, and disability.  Sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination prohibited under this law. 

Click here to read the full article.

HUD Expands Housing Protections for Survivors of Violence

10/24/2016

WASHINGTON – When a home is a place of violence, residents are vulnerable to losing their housing through eviction, coercion, or abuse.  Today, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development finalized a new rule to protect the housing of survivors of domestic and dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking.

Click here to read the full article.

HUD Announces New Protections for Victims of Harassment and Survivors of Domestic Violence

9/13/2016

HUD published a final rule formalizing legal standards under the Fair Housing Act for sexual and other forms of harassment in housing. In addition, HUD is issuing Fair Housing Act guidance on local “nuisance ordinances” that may lead to housing discrimination against survivors of domestic violence and other persons in need of emergency services.

HUD is issuing its Nuisance Guidance as the country marks the 22nd anniversary of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). Through the VAWA 2013 reauthorization, protections have been expanded to nearly all HUD programs. Previously, only residents of public housing and Section 8 tenant-based and project-based programs were covered.

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