News

Maine landlord sued for allegedly coercing tenant into sex act, harassing others

11/20/2023

by Anna Coon, WGME Thu, November 16th 2023

LEWISTON (WGME) – The Department of Justice filed a civil lawsuit against a Maine landlord on Thursday, on claims that he had been sexually harassing his tenants for years.

The Justice Department claims the defendant, Fred Wheeler of Manchester, violated the Fair Housing Act, and is seeking monetary damages for any people who may have been harmed by the alleged harassment.


To read the full article from WGME, click here.

Arizona mortgage firm to pay $5,000 to settle sexual orientation complaint

11/17/2023

Arizona Republic

April 19, 2023

An Arizona mortgage firm, Discount Mortgage Advisors LLC, has agreed to pay two customers a total of $5,000 after they accused the firm of discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, according to the Arizona Attorney General's Office and a copy of the settlement agreement.

To read the full Arizona Republic Artcle, click here

Connecticut landlord to pay $400,000 for tenant harassment

11/17/2023

Apr 20, 2023, 3:29 PM

BY ASSOCIATED PRESS

NEW LONDON, Conn. (AP) — A former Connecticut landlord must pay $400,000 to settle a federal lawsuit alleging he violated the Fair Housing Act by sexually harassing and victimizing his female tenants for at least five years, including evicting or threatening to evict those who objected to or refused his sexual advances.

To read the full MyNorthwest Article, click here

LGBTQ+ renters face more financial barriers to homeownership, Redfin survey finds

10/12/2023

SEATTLE (KOMO) — A recent survey revealed that renters a part of the LGBTQ+ community are more likely to face financial barriers in relation to homeownership when compared to their non-LGBTQ+ renter counterparts.

To read the full KOMO News article, please click here

HUD's LGBTQIA+ Fair Housing Toolkit

4/05/2023

The goal of the LGBTQIA+ Fair Housing Toolkit is to educate housing providers, tenants, applicants and other housing consumers on LGBTQIA+ fair housing protections to advance housing equity for LGBTQIA+ individuals.

This toolkit:

  • Provides an overview of key fair housing laws, regulations, and executive orders related to LGBTQIA+ protections
  • Provides a summary of HUD’s Equal Access Rule
  • Describes the specific protected housing rights of LGBTQIA+ individuals
  • Introduces housing providers to culturally competent definitions and terminology used when discussing sexual orientation and gender identity
  • Provides information on the ways housing providers can prevent housing discrimination in their daily operations
  • Provides detailed information on how and when an individual can report housing discrimination

To view the full toolkit, click here

U.S. Attorney Announced Justice Department Settlement In Sexual Harassment Lawsuit Against Michigan Landlord

3/03/2023

Thursday, March 2, 2023

GRAND RAPIDS – The Justice Department announced today that it has secured an agreement to resolve a lawsuit alleging that Muskegon, Michigan, landlord Darrell Jones violated the Fair Housing Act by sexually harassing female tenants. The settlement also resolves claims against Fatima Jones and Jones Investing, LLC, which, along with Jones, owned the properties where the harassment occurred.

“The sexual harassment of tenants is an intolerable abuse of power that violates federal civil rights laws,” said U.S. Attorney Mark A. Totten for the Western District of Michigan. “No one should have to endure harassment and discrimination, especially in their own homes. My office is committed to protecting the rights of vulnerable tenants and will continue to vigorously enforce the Fair Housing Act to combat discrimination and secure justice for victims.”

For the full article, click here

COMPLAINT - UNITED STATES V. RICHARD DONAHUE (W.D. WISC.)

1/30/2023

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT WESTERN DISTRICT OF WISCONSIN
Civil Action No. 22-cv-273

Since at least 2000, and continuing until the present, Defendant Richard Donahue has subjected tenants of the Subject Properties to discrimination on the basis of sex, including unwelcome and severe or pervasive sexual harassment.

To read the full complaint filed, click here

Grand jury indicts former N.J. landlord, accusing him of soliciting sex from 30 tenants, authorities say

1/30/2023

Dec. 22, 2022, 9:41 AM PST

By Antonio Planas

Joseph Centanni, 75, targeted male and female tenants or prospective tenants "who were homeless, about to be evicted, or otherwise struggling financially," Union County prosecutors say.

To read the full NBC news article, click here

12/8/22 HUD Charges Colorado Landlord with Harassment and Retaliation

12/15/2022

HUD No. 22-248
HUD Public Affairs
(202) 708-0685
WASHINGTON - The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced today that it has charged Vernon Morgan, the owner of a house in Greeley, Colorado, with discrimination for subjecting a female tenant to harassment and retaliation because of sex. Read HUD’s Charge.

To read the HUD press release, please click here

HUD Announces Settlement Agreement with California Housing Providers Resolving Sexual Harassment Claims

10/07/2022

HUD No. 22-183, HUD Public Affairs, (202) 708-0685
FOR Release Friday, September 23, 2022

WASHINGTON - The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced today that it has approved a Conciliation Agreement with Indio, California, property owners Perris Family Apartments, LLC., Perris Family Apartments L.P., and The Coachella Valley Housing Coalition, as well as their property manager, Hyder & Company dba Hyder Property Management Professionals, and maintenance person Kenneth Parker, resolving allegations of housing discrimination because of sex. The Agreement resolves allegations that a female tenant was subjected to sexual harassment by Parker and that the owners and manager failed to prevent further incidents of sexual harassment. This Conciliation Agreement does not constitute an admission by Respondents or evidence of a determination by HUD of any violation of the Fair Housing Act or any other law. Read the Conciliation Agreement here.

To read the full HUD Press release, click here

Single mother wins against landlord for sexual harassment in federal court

8/03/2022

by Skyler Shepard Monday, August 1st 2022

JUPITER, Fla. (CBS12) — A single mother from Jupiter secured her win in federal court after she was sexually harassed by her landlord.

The case of Rita Fox v. Dana Gaines and Lucille Gaines used the grounds of the Fair Housing Act, which prohibits discrimination based on a person's sex. The Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeal has confirmed for the first time, due to this case, that sexual harassment is a form of gender discrimination.

To read the article in full, click here

HUD Charges Owner & Property Manager of a Florida RV Park with Discrimination Against Transgender Woman

7/05/2022

July 5, 2022

WASHINGTON - The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced today that it is charging 21 Palms RV Resort, Inc. and Nathan Dykgraaf, owner and manager of 21 Palms RV Resort Park in Davenport, Florida, with discriminating against a former tenant because of her gender identity. Read the Charge here.

The Fair Housing Act prohibits housing providers from discriminating because of a tenant’s gender identity. This includes prohibiting tenants from expressing their gender. HUD’s Charge of Discrimination resulted from a complaint that the tenant filed with HUD. The Charge alleges that Mr. Dykgraaf violated the Act when he gave the tenant a letter stating that he was aware she was transitioning and telling her to act as a man, talk as a man, and dress as a man to avoid trouble.

To read HUD's Press Release, click here

Justice Department Files Sexual Harassment Lawsuit Against Wisconsin Rental Property Owners

5/16/2022

Friday, May 13, 2022

The Department of Justice announced today that it has filed a lawsuit against Richard and Mary Donahue, owners of rental properties in the Janesville, Wisconsin area, alleging sexual harassment and retaliation in violation of the Fair Housing Act.

The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin, alleges that Richard Donahue, who manages the properties, sexually harassed numerous female tenants since at least 2000. According to the complaint, Donahue made repeated and unwelcome sexual comments to female tenants, entered the homes of female tenants without their consent, touched female tenants’ bodies without their consent, requested sexual contact, offered reduced or free rent in exchange for sexual contact and took adverse housing-related actions against female tenants who refused his sexual advances. The lawsuit also names as a defendant Mary Donahue, Richard Donahue’s wife, who co-owns some of the properties.

To read the full DOJ press release, click here

Tenants to share in $750K settlement with landlord over harassment claims

5/16/2022

Matt Sepic October 25, 2021

A federal judge on Monday ordered a Minneapolis landlord to pay $750,000 to settle allegations of sexual harassment against his tenants.

Plaintiff's attorneys say property owner Reese Pfeiffer repeatedly made unwanted sexual advances toward his tenants, who are mostly single Black mothers.

In a Fair Housing Act lawsuit, Mid-Minnesota Legal Aid alleged that Pfeiffer filed eviction notices against tenants over phony charges, then told them that they could "work it out" by having sex with him.

According to the civil complaint, Pfeiffer suddenly told Shatara Brown in June 2019 that she owed him $4,000, then tried to evict her after she refused his sexual advances. Brown, who’d been homeless for a time, rented a home from Pfeiffer in Crystal, Minn., even though she had heard about his alleged harassment of female tenants.

Pfeiffer allegedly told Brown, “I know a way you can catch up on your rent, but you just won’t give in.”

To read the full MPR News article, click here

The good and bad news about housing for LGBTQ Americans

5/16/2022

LGBTQ Americans finally won Fair Housing Act protections. Here’s how they’re working.

By Rachel M. Cohenrachel.cohen@voxmedia.com May 11, 2022

It’s been a particularly difficult time for Dianne Karon, a 65-year-old transgender woman, as the political vitriol aimed at queer and trans people has escalated.

Despite this, Karon says she still feels lucky because she has safe and secure housing after landing a spot in Stonewall House, a Brooklyn LGBTQ-friendly senior housing development that opened in 2019. Like many queer and trans people, she has struggled to find permanent housing, and having served time in prison certainly didn’t make things easier.

to read the full VOX article, click here

Fair Housing Advocates of Northern California Negotiates Settlement of Disability Discrimination Complaint on Behalf of Client

5/16/2022

Fair Housing Advocates of Northern California Negotiates Settlement of Disability Discrimination Complaint on Behalf of Client

May 5, 2022 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Caroline Peattie, Fair Housing Advocates of Northern California (415) 483-7552, peattie@fairhousingnorcal.org

San Rafael, CA – Just before Fair Housing Month was celebrated in April, a settlement agreement was executed in a gender and disability discrimination complaint brought by Fair Housing Advocates of Northern California (FHANC) and one of its clients against Bret Andrews. The complaint, filed in February 2021 with the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH), alleged that Mr. Andrews discriminated against her in violation of federal, state, and local fair housing laws.


The client, a Mill Valley tenant of approximately ten years, alleged that Bret Andrews sexually harassed her, retaliated against her for refusing his sexual advances, and failed to accommodate her disability on multiple occasions.

To read the full FHAofNC press release, please click here

Examining Housing Experiences by Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity

5/05/2022

Veronica Helms, Emily Molfino, and Ben Winter from HUD’s Office of Policy Development and Research discuss insights from the U.S. Census Household Pulse Survey

To read HUD's Policy Development and Research survey results, click here

Fact Sheet: Reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA)

4/07/2022

To read the White House Fact sheet on the Reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) click here.

President Biden Signs Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization

4/07/2022

To read the National LGBTQ Task Force news announcement, click here

Landlord Accused of Demanding Sex to Stop Evictions to Pay $4M, Cannot Own, Manage Rentals

2/03/2022

BY AYUMI DAVIS ON 12/14/21 AT 4:44 PM EST
Joseph Centanni, a landlord in New Jersey, will pay an approximate $4.4 million settlement and is banned from owning or managing rental properties after being accused of demanding sex from his low-income tenants to stop evictions, the Department of Justice said Tuesday.

To read the full Newsweek story, click here

DOJ reaches 'historic' settlement against a landlord accused of sexually harassing tenants

12/15/2021

"New Jersey landlord has agreed to pay $4.5 million in damages to resolve a lawsuit alleging he demanded sexual favors from tenants and applicants so they could keep or receive housing, the Justice Department announced in a news release Tuesday."

To read the CNN article, click here

HUD Approves Agreement Between Owners of Tucson Apt. Complex & Same-Sex Couple Resolving Claims of Housing Discrimination

10/11/2021

October 7, 2021
WASHINGTON - The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced today that it has approved a Conciliation Agreement between the owners of an apartment complex in Tucson, AZ, the city of Tucson, and a same-sex African-American couple residing at the complex, resolving allegations that the owners and manager of the complex discriminated on the basis of sex and race when they failed to address the couple’s complaints of neighbor harassment, which included physical intimidation and disparaging statements being made about the couple’s race and sexual orientation. The owners also retaliated against the couple for complaining about the harassment. Read the Agreement. Or click, here.

Landlords Are Allegedly Asking For Sex From Tenants Who Can't Afford To Pay Rent Right Now

8/31/2021

“We’ve received more cases at our office in the last two days than we have in the last two years,” one women's advocate told BuzzFeed News.

Posted on April 15, 2020, at 6:01 p.m. ET

To read the BuzzFeed article, click here

DOJ's Sexual Harassment in Housing Initiative-Recent Cases

8/31/2021

To read about recent DOJ sexual harassment in housing cases, click here

Justice Department Obtains Settlement from San Diego Landlord to Resolve Claims Of Sexual Harassment Against Female Tenants

8/31/2021

The Justice Department today announced it has reached an agreement with defendant Larry Nelson to resolve a Fair Housing Act lawsuit alleging that he sexually harassed female tenants while owning and managing San Diego area rental properties.

To read the full DOJ Press release, click here

Justice Department Obtains $1.25 Million Settlement from Oklahoma City Landlords to Resolve Claims of Sexual Harassment Against Female Tenants

8/31/2021

Wednesday, August 4, 2021
The Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Oklahoma have reached a $1.25 million agreement with defendants Rosemarie Pelfrey, Omega Enterprises LLC and Pelfrey Investment Company Inc. to resolve a Fair Housing Act lawsuit alleging that their agent, Walter Ray Pelfrey (Pelfrey), sexually harassed female tenants and prospective tenants while owning or managing dozens of Oklahoma City – area rental properties. Pelfrey died in 2018.

To Read the full DOJ press release, click here

HUD To Probe Housing Bias Cases Involving Sexual Orientation Or Gender Identity

6/29/2021

The Department of Housing and Urban Development announced Thursday it will begin enforcing the Fair Housing Act to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

The move follows an executive order signed by President Biden on his first day in office instructing agencies to enforce prohibitions on such discrimination.

To continue to full NPR article, click here

A New Era for Housing Protections

6/29/2021

After being rejected numerous times by potential landlords when her identity documents did not match her gender, Angelica Butler, a transgender woman, reportedly spent years in and out of homelessness.

Stories like Angelica’s are not uncommon in the LGBTQ community. Under a new executive order, however, the Biden Administration is expanding protections for LGBTQ individuals by requiring federal agencies to prohibit discrimination on the basis of gender identity or sexual orientation. In a memorandum issued last month, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced that it would be the first agency to implement the executive order by enforcing the Fair Housing Act (FHA) to include LGBTQ protections.

To read the full The Regulatory Review article, click here

Housing Discrimination Remains a Big Barrier For the LGBTQ+ Community

6/29/2021

Pride month is a time to step back and appreciate the progress we have seen for LGBTQ+ people in Illinois—and to identity the urgent issues and harms still facing these communities. Lack of access to stable housing affects so many people, and anti-LGBTQ+ housing discrimination has long been a barrier to the safety and welfare of queer and transgender people. And in the midst of an ongoing pandemic, stable housing is more important than ever.

LGBTQ+ people continue to face significant bias based on sexual orientation and gender identity in housing.

To read the full ACLU article, click here

HUD Charge for Sexual Harassment

6/10/2021

WASHINGTON - The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced today that it is charging the husband-and-wife owners of apartments in Oil City, Pennsylvania, with sexual harassment and retaliation against a female resident. HUD’s charge alleges that the husband groped and tried to forcibly kiss the woman when he was in her unit to perform electrical repairs. HUD’s charge further alleges that the owners retaliated against the woman and her infant child after she told the wife about the husband’s harassment.

To Read HUD"s charge, click here

N.J. landlord charged with ‘coercing’ more than a dozen tenants into sex acts in exchange for housing

6/10/2021

By

An Elizabeth landlord, who federal authorities sued last year alleging the landlord demanded sexual favors from tenants, was arrested Friday morning on several criminal charges “for allegedly coercing more than a dozen of his tenants into sexual acts in exchange for financial relief,” NJ Advance Media has learned.
To con't reading this article, click here

Sexual Harassment And Domestic Violence Threaten Fair Access To Housing

6/10/2021

By Sara Oros / June 10, 2021

Housing discrimination and sexual harassment often overlap and create additional barriers for women in accessing and maintaining safe and affordable housing.

Of the federal protected classes, sexual harassment is included under the criteria for protections against sex discrimination. Sexual harassment is covered under Title VII, but also has specific protections in the Fair Housing Act (FHA) as well, because individual poor behaviors should never threaten access to safe housing.

To continue reading this NCRC article, please click here

HUD To Probe Housing Bias Cases Involving Sexual Orientation Or Gender Identity

3/02/2021

"The Department of Housing and Urban Development announced Thursday it will begin enforcing the Fair Housing Act to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

The move follows an executive order signed by President Biden on his first day in office instructing agencies to enforce prohibitions on such discrimination.

"People should be able to access healthcare and secure a roof over their heads without being subjected to sex discrimination," the order says in part. "All persons should receive equal treatment under the law, no matter their gender identity or sexual orientation."

To read the full NPR article, click here

Missouri Lesbian Couple Settles Discrimination Suit Against Senior Housing Community

2/16/2021

12.09.2020

Relman Colfax is pleased to announce the settlement of Walsh v. Friendship Village of South County, a lawsuit alleging that a St. Louis-area retirement community violated the sex discrimination provisions of the Fair Housing Act when it denied admission to Mary Walsh and Bev Nance because they are a lesbian couple. Our co-counsel were the National Center for Lesbian Rights, St. Louis LGBTQ civil rights attorney Arlene Zarembka, and the ACLU of Missouri.

To read the Relman Colfax press release, click here

HUD expands fair housing protections for transgender people

2/11/2021

By Tracy Jan

Feb. 11, 2021 at 10:32 a.m. PST

The Department of Housing and Urban Development said Thursday it will investigate complaints of discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity, expanding civil rights protections for LGBTQ people seeking housing or temporary shelter across the country.

To read the full Washington Post article, click here