News

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

Fair Housing Advocates of Northern California and Client Settle Sexual Harassment Complaint Against Landlord

12/22/2020

12/21/2020
San Rafael, CA – Fair Housing Advocates of Northern California (FHANC) and one of its clients settled a sexual harassment and disability discrimination complaint that had been filed with the Housing and Urban Development’s Department of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity against Turina Associates, LP et al.

To read the full press release from FHA of N. California, click here

Discrimination lawsuit sparks awareness campaign around senior living LGBT issues

12/10/2020

PHOTO:

Mary Walsh and Bev Nance pose at their 2009 wedding in Provincetown, MA. (Photo: Mary Walsh)

A new federal lawsuit alleging discrimination by a Missouri senior living community has sparked a public awareness and education campaign by a national advocacy group for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender older adults.

Wednesday, the National Center for Lesbian Rights; law firm Relman, Dane & Colfax; ACLU of Missouri and attorney Arlene Zarembka took legal action against Friendship Village Sunset Hills in St. Louis on behalf of a married lesbian couple who say they were denied a unit at the faith-based, not-for-profit continuing care retirement community in July 2016 because they are a same-sex married couple.

To read the full McKnight's Senior Living article, here

A Retirement Community Turned Away These Married Women

12/10/2020

PHOTO credit: Mary Walsh, left, and her wife, Beverly Nance, were denied admission to Friendship Village outside St. Louis. “This is not right," Ms. Walsh said. "They shouldn’t be able to do this.”Credit...Nick Schnelle for The New York Times

According to the facility’s “cohabitation policy,” marriage is between one man and one woman, “as it is understood in the Bible.”

Mary Walsh and Beverly Nance did considerable research in 2016 before deciding to move into a continuing care retirement community outside St. Louis.

They took a tour of Friendship Village Sunset Hills and were impressed by its pool and fitness center, a calendar crammed with activities, the newly built apartments for independent living. They had meals with a friend and with a former co-worker, and their spouses, all of them enthusiastic residents.

To continue reading the full NY Times article, click here

Walsh v. Friendship Village of South County

12/10/2020

On July 25, 2018, Relman Colfax filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri against Friendship Village Sunset Hills, a senior living community in St. Louis County, and its parent company, FV Services, Inc. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Mary Walsh and Bev Nance, a married lesbian couple, who were denied housing at Friendship Village because they are a same-sex couple.

To read the case filing, click here

Missouri Lesbian Couple Settles Discrimination Suit Against Senior Housing Community

12/10/2020

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 full Relman Colfax press release, click here

N.J. landlord accused of ‘demanding’ sexual favors from tenants has discussed settling case with feds, records show

11/27/2020

The Elizabeth landlord who has been sued by the Department of Justice for allegedly “demanding” sexual favors from tenants in exchange to assist them with obtaining housing has discussed settling the case, according to court documents.

Joseph Centanni, 73, of Mountainside, has had settlement discussions with federal authorities after they sued him for violating the Fair Housing Act in August for allegedly sexually harassing tenants from at least 2005 to 2019, according to documents filed in federal court Monday.

To read the full article, click here

Landlord accused of trying to trade sex for rent faces stalking charges with tenant

11/27/2020

A Cincinnati landlord was indicted federally in 2018 on accusations of offering tenants free rent for sex and subjecting them to "severe, pervasive and unwelcome sexual harassment." That case was nearing an end in U.S. District Court this month, but the defendant, John Klosterman, 70, was arrested Tuesday and charged with menacing by stalking in a new case involving a tenant.

To read full article in the Cincinnati Enquirer, click here

N.J. Landlord Allegedly ‘Demanded’ Sexual Favors in Exchange for Housing, Feds Say

8/25/2020

"The U.S. Justice Department filed a lawsuit against a New Jersey landlord Wednesday alleging the man, who owns hundreds of rental units in and around Elizabeth, sexually harassed tenants and applicants, including demanding sexual favors in exchange for housing, for more than a decade."

To read the full article, click here

N.J. landlord demanded sexual favors from low-income tenants for housing aid, feds say

8/25/2020

"Landlord Joseph Centanni, who received $100,000 in federal payments each month, threatened to evict tenants who didn't submit to his sexual demands, the Justice Department alleges."

To read the full NBC News Article, click here

HUD Updates Equal Access Rule, Returns Decision Making to Local Shelter Providers

7/28/2020

"Rule upholds Department’s commitment to fair treatment of all individuals while allowing shelter providers to establish an admissions policy that best serves their unique communities"

WASHINGTON - U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Ben Carson today announced a proposed modification to the 2016 portion of the Equal Access rule. The Equal Access rule requires all HUD funded housing services to be provided without discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

To read HUD announcement in full, click here

New HUD rule would let shelters turn away transgender people

7/28/2020

"The proposed modification would turn away people whose gender identity does not match their biological sex"

"On Wednesday, [July 1, 2020] the Department of Urban Housing and Development proposed a modification that would allow homeless shelters to deny transgender people access to single-sex shelters of their gender identity.

This modification to the 2016 portion of the Equal Access rule “requires all HUD-funded housing services to be provided without discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity,” a statement from HUD said."

To read the full HousingWire article, click here

HUD’s New Shelter Rule Invites Further Discrimination against Transgender People

7/28/2020

“The rank cruelty of this proposed rule is a new low for this administration which continues its relentless attack on … transgender people.”

"July 24, 2020

(Washington, DC, July 24, 2020) – The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) today unveiled a proposed new rule that would empower federally funded emergency single-sex homeless shelters to turn away people seeking emergency housing based on the subjective determination of shelter staff about whether the person before them appears sufficiently masculine or feminine to be housed in that facility. The rule was published in the Federal Register today."

To read the full Lambda Legal article, click here

Proposed HUD rule rolls back Obama-era protections for homeless transgender individuals

7/28/2020

'The Trump administration announced a proposal on Wednesday to allow federally-funded housing services to turn away individuals whose gender identity does not match the sex they were assigned at birth. The proposed rule, according to Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson, would "better accommodate religious beliefs of shelter providers."

To read the full CBS News article, click here

HUD podcasts: Safe at Home

6/23/2020

Actress and activist Suzzanne Douglas interviews three courageous women who share their moving stories about sexual harassment in housing situations---and how they fought back. The stories range from a landlord groping a prospective tenant to a tenant being threatened with eviction if she didn’t have sex with the property manager. Learn how the Fair Housing Act protects you from sexual harassment in housing situations.

To Listen to the HUD podcasts, click here: Safe at Home Podcasts

NBC News: Landlords are targeting vulnerable tenants to solicit sex in exchange for rent, advocates say.

4/22/2020

"Some landlords are taking advantage of the coronavirus outbreak, soliciting sexual favors in lieu of rent payments from economically vulnerable tenants, according to advocates.

Khara Jabola-Carolus, executive director of the Hawaii State Commission on the Status of Women, said her office has received more reports of landlords sexually harassing their tenants in the last two weeks than it had in the two years since she started working there, including cases of landlords offering to move in with tenants and sending sexually explicit photos to them after they communicated concerns about paying April rent.

While the number of cases wasn't necessarily astronomical — the commission received 10 reports about nine landlords — Jabola-Carolus said they were especially notable given such cases go "vastly underreported."

to read full article, click here

US landlords trying to coerce cash-strapped tenants into ‘sex-for-rent’ agreements

4/22/2020

"Some disgusting US landlords are taking advantage of the coronavirus crisis by trying to coerce their cash-strapped tenants into “sex-for-rent” agreements, according to a disturbing new report.

In Hawaii, the state’s Commission on the Status of Women has seen 10 complaints of sexual harassment by landlords since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, BuzzFeed News reported.

“We’ve received more cases at our office in the last two days than we have in the last two years,” Khara Jabola-Carolus, the executive director of the commission, told the outlet last week.

In the Chicago area, Sheryl Ring, the legal director at Open Communities, a legal aid and fair housing agency, said that her organization has seen a threefold increase in housing-related sexual harassment complaints over the past month."

to read full article, click here

Some landlords soliciting sex in exchange for rent during pandemic: report

4/22/2020

Advocates say they have seen a spike in reports of landlords soliciting sex in exchange for rent from vulnerable tenants, NBC News reports.

The spike in solicitation comes as unemployment has climbed to more than 22 million in the span of just four weeks since businesses began shutting their doors during the coronavirus pandemic. The massive unemployment spike has nearly wiped out the 22.4 million jobs created in the 11-year recovery that followed the last recession in 2009.

to read the full article, click here

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

4/17/2020

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

“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

To read the full article, click here

Property Pimps: What to Do If Your Landlord Pressures Sex for Rent During COVID-19

4/16/2020

"This week, Hawaiʻi observed an increase in reports of landlords on multiple islands pressuring “arrangements” and sexual conduct from women unable to pay rent due to lost income from the COVID-19 crisis. This tells us that there is likely an increase in unreported incidents.

Landlord sexploitation is the latest byproduct of the pandemic. This is because the responses to COVID-19 — fast and furious in some states, and, in others, molasses slow — all failed to factor in gender and the “non-crisis” reality of male violence waiting around every corner for women, femme identified and non-binary people."

written by:

Khara Jabola-Carolus

Khara Jabola-Carolus

Read the full article by clicking here

SEXUAL HARASSMENT IN HOUSING PSA

4/16/2020

Sexual harassment in housing is illegal. If you or someone you know has been a victim, please call 1-844-380-6178 or email fairhousing@usdoj.gov

https://www.justice.gov/crt/sexual-harassment-housing-initiative-how-report

El Departamento de Justicia lanza una campaña de concientización pública con víctimas de acoso sexual en vivienda.

El acoso sexual en la vivienda es ilegal. Si usted o alguien que conoce ha sido víctima, por favor llame al 1-844-380-6178 o envíe un correo electrónico a fairhousing@usdoj.gov   

https://www.justice.gov/crt-espanol/iniciativa-en-contra-del-acoso-sexual-en-la-vivienda-c-mo-presentar-una-denuncia

To View the Full 30 sec. PSA, click here

WORKING WITH DOJ TO STOP SEXUAL HARASSMENT IN HOUSING

4/16/2020

This video explains how DOJ may be able to help if you or someone you know has been sexually harassed by a landlord, property manager, maintenance worker, or someone else with control over housing.  You will hear from people who have experienced sexual harassment about what that experience was like, as well as what it was like to report the harassment and work with DOJ.  You will also hear from a DOJ official about how DOJ may be able to help and some other resources that you may want to consider.

Sexual harassment in housing is illegal. If you or someone you know has been a victim, please call 1-844-380-6178 or email fairhousing@usdoj.gov

https://www.justice.gov/crt/sexual-harassment-housing-initiative-how-report

Click here to view the full video

Anna María Farías HUD Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity, Fair Housing News: April 9, 2020

4/16/2020

"Happy Fair Housing Month!
This year’s commemoration occurs at a time when a global pandemic is threatening the health of millions and dramatically changing the fundamental ways in which we socialize, travel, shop, even attend school. And there’s no quick end to it in sight, so please continue doing all you can to keep yourselves and your families safe."

To read the full statement, please click the following title: Hud Assistant Secretary For Fair Housing And Equal Opportunity Fair Housing Month Message

Justice Department Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit Against Owners and Manager of Kansas Rental Properties

2/04/2020

The Department of Justice announced today that Thong Cao and his wife, Mai Cao, will be obligated to pay $160,000 in damages and civil penalties to resolve a Fair Housing Act lawsuit alleging that Thong Cao sexually harassed numerous female tenants since at least 2009 at residential properties he owned or operated in Wichita, Kansas. Mai Cao is named as a defendant in this lawsuit because she owned or co-owned certain rental properties at which harassment took place.

Click here to read the DOJ news on this case

Sexual Harassment in Housing PSA

11/04/2019

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

Sexual harassment in housing is illegal. If you or someone you know has been a victim, please call 1-844-380-6178 or email fairhousing@usdoj.gov
https://www.justice.gov/crt/sexual-harassment-housing-initiative-how-report

El Departamento de Justicia lanza una campaña de concientización pública con víctimas de acoso sexual en vivienda.

El acoso sexual en la vivienda es ilegal. Si usted o alguien que conoce ha sido víctima, por favor llame al 1-844-380-6178 o envíe un correo electrónico a fairhousing@usdoj.gov   
https://www.justice.gov/crt-espanol/iniciativa-en-contra-del-acoso-sexual-en-la-vivienda-c-mo-presentar-una-denuncia

Click here to see: Sexual Harassment in Housing--Public Service Announcement

Working with DOJ to Stop Sexual Harassment in Housing

11/04/2019

This video explains how DOJ may be able to help if you or someone you know has been sexually harassed by a landlord, property manager, maintenance worker, or someone else with control over housing.  You will hear from people who have experienced sexual harassment about what that experience was like, as well as what it was like to report the harassment and work with DOJ.  You will also hear from a DOJ official about how DOJ may be able to help and some other resources that you may want to consider.

Sexual harassment in housing is illegal. If you or someone you know has been a victim, please call 1-844-380-6178 or email fairhousing@usdoj.gov
https://www.justice.gov/crt/sexual-harassment-housing-initiative-how-report

Click here to view: Working with DOJ to Stop Sexual Harassment in Housing

Sexual Harassment in Housing Initiative-Recent Cases

8/28/2019

Robert N. Hatfield rented, sold, and financed homes in Wilkes County, North Carolina. DOJ received reports that he made unwelcome sexual comments to female applicants and tenants, groped female applicants and tenants, offered to reduce or eliminate payments in exchange for sexual acts, and took or threatened to take away housing benefits from residents who rejected his advances. DOJ filed a lawsuit on July 13, 2017 against him. He settled the case on April 12, 2019. The settlement prohibits Hatfield from renting, selling, or financing residential properties, and requires him to pay $550,000 to 17 residents and applicants he harassed.

Click here to read additional recent cases

SEXUAL HARASSMENT IN HOUSING INITIATIVE - NEWS

8/08/2019

HUD conducts Round Table Forums and pursuits cases of Sexual Harassment in Housing.

Click here to read more about recent DOJ cases and sexual harassment in housing

Justice Department Reports Major Increases in Victim Reporting and Number of Lawsuits Filed in One Year Since Launch of Initiative to Combat Sexual Harassment in Housing

8/08/2019

"The Justice Department today announced the one-year anniversary of its initiative to combat sexual harassment in housing. Since its launch in October 2017 and nationwide expansion in April 2018, the Department has seen a major upswing in both reporting and enforcement. Over the past year, the Department has:

  • Opened 34 new sexual harassment matters. This is more than any previous year and nearly five times the number of matters opened in the prior year."

Click here to read the DOJ press release on sex discrimination cases

WHEN YOUR SEXUAL HARASSER HAS KEYS TO YOUR APARTMENT

8/08/2019

Bringing Sexual Harassment in Housing Out from Behind Closed Doors

BY CHRISTINA COLÓN

"During Frank Tenuta’s 33-year tenure as an attorney, he’s heard various versions of how it begins.

“I was in the shower and all of a sudden I heard my landlord out there saying, ‘Hey, anybody here? I knocked and nobody answered so I just came in.’”

Tenuta’s first case of sexual harassment in housing occurred in the mid-to-late 1980s. The woman was behind on her rent. The landlord said he would look the other way if she performed sexual favors."

Click here to read Sojourner's article on sexual harassment in housing


HUD's Training Page for Preventing Sexual and Other Discriminatory Harassment in Housing

5/30/2019

"This page contains links that will help you understand what sexual harassment in housing looks like and how it violates the Fair Housing Act. The links will also identify ways to prevent and eliminate sexual harassment when it occurs."

Click here to go to HUD's training Page

April 2019 Humans of HUD features sexual harassment in housing testimonies

5/30/2019

This year [2019], throughout the month of April, the “Humans of HUD” photoblog will feature victims of sexual harassment in housing, highlighting the personal testimonies of survivors and those who helped them. 

Click here to view Humans of HUD photo blog

HUD Chief Uses Personal Experience to Encourage Women to Report Sexual Harassment in Housing

5/30/2019

"Raquel Hubbard-Hall lived in fear of her landlord, who stalked her inside her home.

Walter Ray Pelfrey would repeatedly show up to fix appliances that weren’t broken, and, once inside the Oklahoma City home Ms. Hubbard-Hall shared with three young children, he would make lewd remarks and sexual advances."

Click here to read the Washington Times Article

ABC News article: Uncovering Rampant Sexual Harassment in Housing Systems

4/01/2019

highlight ABC Nightline's recent story: Uncovering Rampant Sexual Harassment in Housing Systems, which features women who share their stories of abuse and the impact the experience had on their lives, as well as how HUD and the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) helped them to obtain the justice they deserved, and in one case, a $2.7 million settlement. 

Click here for ABC News article: Uncovering rampant sexual harassment in housing

Cómo luchar contra el acoso sexual en la vivienda

3/05/2019

"Encontrar vivienda puede ser estresante, sobretodo si su presupuesto es ajustado, está solo y no cuenta con muchas opciones. Y cuando alguien que le ofrece un lugar para vivir lo acosa sexualmente, esto lo puede dejar sintiéndose inseguro y humillado."

Haga clic aquí para leer el artículo: Cómo luchar contra el acoso sexual en la vivienda

Fighting Back Against Sexual Harassment in Housing

3/05/2019

"Finding housing can be stressful, especially if money’s tight, you’re on your own, and you don’t have a lot of options. And when someone who can grant you a place to live sexually harasses you, it can leave you feeling unsafe and humiliated."

Click here to read the article: Fighting Back Against Sexual Harassment in Housing

Scotland County, North Carolina, Public Housing Agency and Two Former Employees to Pay Over $2.7 Million to Settle Sexual Harassment Lawsuits

3/05/2019

The Justice Department today [Wednesday, July 1, 2015] announced that Southeastern Community and Family Services Inc. (SCFS), a public housing agency that administers the Section 8 voucher program in Scotland County, North Carolina, and two of SCFS’ former employees have agreed to pay more than $2.7 million in monetary damages and civil penalties to settle consolidated Fair Housing Act lawsuits brought by the Justice Department and private plaintiffs.  SCFS was formerly known as Four-County Community Services Inc. 

Click here to read the DOJ Charges against Scotland County, North Carolina Housign Authority

Settlement Agreement: United States v. Kansas City Kansas Housing Authority, Victor L. Hernandez, Derrick Estelle Sr. and Ronald Cobb

3/05/2019

"This action was filed on October 26, 2015 by the United States to enforce Title
VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968, as amended by the Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988 (“Fair Housing Act”), 42 U.S.C. §§ 3601-3631."

Click here to read the Settlement Agreement US v Kansas City Kansas Housing Authority

Justice Department Obtains $365,000 Settlement of Sexual Harassment Lawsuit Against Kansas City, Kansas, Housing Authority

3/05/2019

"The Justice Department today [Friday, September 29, 2017] announced that the Kansas City, Kansas, Housing Authority (KCKHA) and three of its former employees have agreed to pay $365,000 to resolve a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by the department in 2015.  So far this year, the Justice Department has filed or settled four cases alleging unlawful sexual harassment of women in housing."

Click here to read the DOJ charges

ABC News Article: Uncovering Rampant Sexual Harassment in Housing

3/05/2019

For Autumn Weaver, having a home meant everything.

"It was my independence," Weaver, 33, said. "It was me finally being able to do it on my own without any help."

Click here to read the ABC News article: Uncovering rampant sexual harassment in housing

ABC News Video: Uncovering Rampant Hexual harassment in Housing Systems

3/05/2019

ABC News  video Published on Feb 26, 2019

Khristen Sellers went to court after she says she was solicited for sex by a man who had the power to evict her - and dozens of other women with alarmingly similar stories came forward.

Click here to view the YouTube video (9 min 43 sec.)