Defend Civil Rights in Housing!

Join us for Comments & Cocktails… and Call on HUD to Defend Civil Rights in Housing

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is proposing to gut the longstanding legal tool known as disparate impact under the Fair Housing Act, that would destroy a 45-year-old protection against housing discrimination and would pave the way for widespread harm to millions of people.

We are hosting a Comments Party on September 26, 2019 from 4:30-6:00PM at the Connecticut Fair Housing Center to raise awareness of the proposed changes and encourage people to submit a comment, urging HUD to reconsider the proposed changes. We will have refreshments, information about disparate impact, and sample comments so that we can help achieve the goal of submitting 100,000 comments to HUD.

Join us, invite your friends, and help to defend civil rights in Housing! Please RSVP at www.ctfairhousing.org/comments-party.

Can’t make it Hartford for Comments & Cocktails? You can submit comments here and learn more about HUD’s proposed attack on civil rights at defendcivilrights.org.

Ending Sexual Harassment in Housing – Seminar

The Norwalk Fair Housing Advisory Commission, in partnership with the Connecticut Fair Housing Center, will host a seminar on Ending Sexual Harassment in Housing on September 18, 2019 at the Norwalk City Hall.

The following presenters will speak about ways to address and prevent sexual harassment in Housing:

Nancy Gifford, Esq., Assistant US Attorney with US Department of Justice

Ndidi Moses, Esq., Assistant US Attorney with US Department of Justice

Greg Kanaan, Equal Opportunity Specialist, HUD FHEO Office, Hartford

Erin Kemple, Esq., Executive Director, Connecticut Fair Housing Center, Hartford

If you would like to attend the seminar, please complete the Registration Form to select a session. The morning and afternoon sessions will address the same content, so you may register to attend one of two sessions.

Change in Disparate Impact Rule Would Jeopardize Housing Security for Most Vulnerable Citizens

The Connecticut Fair Housing Center and other local fair housing groups throughout the nation have seen an increase in the number of people of color who have contacted the Center because they have been denied housing as the result of a criminal record.  This is not surprising since in Connecticut, African Americans are incarcerated at 9.4 times the rate of whites and Latinos are incarcerated at 3.9 times the rate of whites. African Americans comprise 41.6% of Connecticut’s prison population but only 9.7% of the total population.  Latinos comprise 26.2% of the prison population but only 14.7% of the overall population.[1]  As a result, people of color are denied housing more often than people who are white because of their criminal records.  The proliferation of tenant screening companies which gather data from many sources and provide them to landlords mean that more and more people with criminal records are being denied housing, not because they pose a threat to the safety of others today, but for behavior that in many cases is decades old.  A recent review of tenant selection policies in Fairfield County, Connecticut reveals that 78% of the units have rules that disqualify individuals with a criminal record.  Because of the disparity in conviction records in Connecticut and throughout the country, people of color are limited in their choice of where to live.

The disparate impact rule recognizes the inherent unfairness in limiting the housing choices for people of color based on a rule that sweeps too broadly.  One of the Center’s clients who is Latino was recently denied housing for an arrest for a misdemeanor that was eventually dismissed.  The client is now severely disabled and unable to move or act on his own, yet his criminal history prevented him from moving out of a nursing home and in with his mother for more than a year.  By using the disparate impact rule to challenge the use of criminal records, the Center has assisted this client, and many others, in obtaining housing that meets their needs without increasing the threat to the health or safety of other tenants. There is no need to weaken a regulation that is working to obtain housing for some of the country’s most vulnerable citizens.

[1] “State-by-State Data.” The Sentencing Project. Accessed Feb. 6, 2019. https://www.sentencingproject.org

Hartford Shelter Unlawfully Ejects an Individual with Disabilities from Shelter

 

 

 

IMMEDIATE RELEASE

July 15, 2019

Contacts: Greg Kirschner, Legal Director, greg@ctfairhousing.org or (860) 263 – 0724

Erin Kemple, Executive Director, erin@ctfairhousing.org or (860) 263 – 0723

 

Hartford Shelter Unlawfully Ejects an Individual with Disabilities from Shelter

South Park Inn claims that it caused former resident no harm when it forced him to sleep on the streets during cold and snowy weather for more than a week.

South Park Inn, a Hartford shelter and social services provider, argues in a new court filing that it can’t be held liable for harm suffered from unlawfully kicking residents onto the street in the winter because its clients “come and go from the shelter” and “[w]hen not at the shelter” “are out in the streets” “or are seeking or utilizing other refuge of myriad forms.”

The Connecticut Fair Housing Center filed suit against South Park Inn in March after the shelter suddenly expelled Zhakim Williams.  South Park Inn did not follow the State regulations before having Mr. Williams removed. Mr. Williams is an individual with disabilities who had been a shelter resident for six months. The employee who expelled Mr. Williams called the police and told the dispatcher that that she was kicking him out because Mr. Williams had threatened to “take her to a housing meeting” over how she was treating him. South Park Inn refused to readmit Mr. Williams and he spent more than a week on the streets during cold and snowy weather.

In addition to claiming that it is not foreseeable that a person who was formerly homelessness might be harmed by being made homeless again – in other words, that homeless people are so used to being homeless that they can’t be harmed by South Park’s conduct – South Park Inn also argues that state regulations for shelters do not create an enforceable standard of care for the protection of residents and the state and federal fair housing laws do not apply to it.

Mr. Williams eventually found a bed at another shelter with the help of the Center and the State Department of Housing, and has since moved into a transitional apartment. “I don’t want anyone to lose their job but I want South Park Inn to do better, train its staff better and treat its residents better,” said Mr. Williams when asked why he was pursuing this case.

Greg Kirschner the Center’s Legal Director stated “People who experience homelessness are no less human and no more immune to suffering from cruel and indifferent treatment or from the cold, hunger, and discomfort that comes with living on the streets. That South Park Inn, an institution which should know better than anyone of these challenges, would argue it has no duties to the people it serves and that its residents lack the dignity we accord to others is deeply troubling.”

Center staff attorney David Lavery added “from our preliminary investigation we expect to uncover that South Park Inn has acted with callous disregard for the emergency shelter regulations, has abused the 9-1-1 system to support its unlawful conduct, and has failed to protect the civil rights of its residents.”

 

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