FAIR HOUSING E-NEWS
Greater Baltimore Community Housing Resource Board, Inc. (GBCHRB) June-July, 2005 / Vol.1, No. 1
NATIONAL NEWS THIS MONTH
IN THE STATE & LOCAL NEWS
DID YOU KNOW?
ABC-TV Cancels Airing of "Welcome to the Neighborhood" After the Reality Show Criticised as a Violation of the Fair Housing Act. In the cancelled series, which was to begin this fall, seven families - including an African-American, Wiccan, Latino, and Asian - compete to win a four-bedroom house near Austin, Texas. Their judges are described as "white, Christian, Republican, and 'close-minded.'" The series was attacked by the National Fair Housing Alliance (NFHA), among others, because the residents were "making their judgments because of race, national origin, and religion," according to the NFHA's Shanna Smith. (Washington Post, June 30, 2005:C7)
Federal Enforcement of Civil Rights & Antidiscrimination Laws Declines during 1999-2003. A study by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse of Syracuse University found the Federal government prosecuted 159 civil rights violators in 1999, but only 84 in 2003. One explanation is that federal agents have not been recommending prosecution at the same rate, and recommendations dropped from 3,000 to 1,900, some 63%. The rate of civil rights complaints has remained about the same at 12,000 annually, but civil sanctions against violators have dropped from 740 in 2001 to 576 in 2003. Prosecution of terrorism and weapons violations during the same period have skyrocketed. The number of people charged by the U. S. Department of Justice with terrorism offenses jumped from 99 to 899 during 1999-2003, and with weapons violations from 4,900 to 10,000. Full report: http://trac.syr.edu/tracreports/civright/106/. (National Fair Housing Advocate, Winter 2004-05:2 / http://www.fairhousing.com/)
Study Finds Latinos are Often Victims of Predatory Lending. The study by the National Council of La Raza found that over 40% of Hispanics got high-cost subprime mortgages in 2002. This compares to only 18th for Whites. Latinos are the fastest-growing group of homeowners in the US, the number actually nearly doubling (185%) between 2002 and 1993. The study found Latinos were less likely to receive financing and down-payment assistance, and more likely to be told they only qualified for smaller loans. The report also discovered: (1) because there are few prime lending institutions in Hispanic residential areas, the "unscrupulous" firms have moved in for the business; and (2) mainstream lenders' outreach often does not reach Hispanic households. (Wall Street Journal, May 25, 2005:D2) (http://www.nclr.org/content/publications/detail/31596/)
People of Color Receive Higher-Cost Loans Disproportionately. A study of 2003 Home Mortgage Disclosure Act (HMDA) data conducted by the Inner City Press / Fair Finance Watch of four banks and three of the largest subprime lenders found higher-cost loans are disproportionately imposed on people of color. Lenders studied were Washington Mutual, AIG / American General, and Ameriquest, and a number of regional banks, including KeyCorp, SunTrust, Royal Bank of Canada / Centura and ABN Amro. (http://www.knowledgeplex.org/, April 18, 2005) (http://www.knowledgeplex.org/news/85848.html)
As Part of Settlement of ADA Lawsuit, Regal Theaters to Alter Movie Seating for People with Disabilities. The nation's largest movie theater chain will change almost 1,000 stadium-style auditoriums so people in wheelchairs have better views. Also, there will be wheelchair seating in the back of all new Regal theaters. The terms are part of a lawsuit alleging Regal violated the Americans with Disabilities Act. (Baltimore Sun, June 9, 2005:7A)
New York U. S. Attorney Eliot Spitzer Launches Mortgage Lending Discrimination Investigation After Discovering Problems in HMDA Data. The Spitzer study found "substantial racial disparities in interest rates charged by various banks on their New York State loans" as well as at "Wells Fargo, African American customers were three times more likely to receive high cost loans; at J. P. Morgan, Chase, and Citigroup, African American customers were about 1.5 times as likely to receive such loans." (Washington Post, June 25, 2005:A23) http://www.oag.state.ny.us/press/2005/jun/jun17a_05.html
Bruce S. Gordon, Former Verizon Executive, Named as NAACP President/CEO. He observed that his own "bias" was that "economic power and economic equality enables social justice." The nation's largest civil rights organization currently has a membership of 100,000. Gordon was born in Camden, New Jersey, where his father founded a NAACP chapter. (New York Times, June 26, 2005:15) http://www.naacp.org/news/2005/2005_06_25.html
Former KKK Leader Convicted in 1964 Death of Three Civil Rights Leaders. The manslaughter conviction of former KKK leader Edgar Ray Killen, now 80, in the 1964 death of three civil rights leaders occurred 41 years to the date after the brutal killings of James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner in Mississippi. On June 21, 1964, Chaney, 21, a black voter registration volunteer from Mississippi, Goodman, a 20-year-old white co-worker of New York, and Schwerner, a white 24-year-old native of New York, set out to investigate the burning of a black church near Philadelphia, Mississippi. They were stopped for speeding and allegedly ambushed by Klansmen. (Washington Post, June 26, 2005:A6); http://www.naacp.org/news/2005/2005_06_22.html
Bias & Hate Crimes Against Muslims Soared in 2004, According to Study. The report by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (http://www.cair-net.org/) found In 2004, CAIR processed a total of 1,522 incident reports of civil rights cases compared to 1,019 cases reported to CAIR in 2003. This constitutes a 49 percent increase in the reported cases of harassment, violence and discriminatory treatment from 2003 and marks the highest number of Muslim civil rights cases ever reported to CAIR in our eleven year history. (Baltimore Sun, May 11, 2005:7A)
African-American and Hispanic Leaders Strongly Criticized the Mexican Government for Issuing a "Racist" Series of Stamps. The stamps depict a dark-skinned Jim Crow type character with exaggerated eyes, lips, and clothing. Leaders of the NAACP, the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition, the National Council of La Raza, and the National Urban League denounced the stamps. The curator of a Michigan specializing in Jim Crow momorabilia said the Memin Penguin character is a "classic pickaninny," and the Reverend Jesse L. Jackson on the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition said "It is offensive," and called on Mexican President Vincente Fox to apologize and halt the stamps' circulation. (Washington Post, June 30, 2005:A1) (http://www.naacp.org/news/2005/2005_06_29.html) (http://www.washingtonpost.com/)
Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2005 Proposed. Representatives John Conyers (D-Michigan), Barney Frank (D-Massachusetts), Lleana Ros-Lehiten (R-Florida) and Christopher Shays (R-Connecticut) endorsed the bipartisan introduction of the Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2005. The Act will enhance the federal response to hate crime violence by covering all violent crimes based on race, color, religion, or national origin; as well as permit federal involvement in the prosecution of bias-motivated crimes based on the victim's gender, sexual orientation, or disability. The Act was endorsed by the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights. (http://www.civilrights.org/issues/enforcement/details.cfm?id=31720)
IN THE STATE & LOCAL NEWS
The Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History and Culture Opens in Baltimore. With 82,000 square feet on five levels at 830 E. Pratt Street, the Museum is the second-largest African-American heritage museum in the nation after Detroit. Included are exhibits on African-American families & communities in Maryland, labor, art & intellect, important events in the Civil Rights movement, and much more. Telephone: 443-263-1800. (Baltimore Sun, June 25, 2005:1D); http://www.africanamericanculture.org/
Montgomery County Housing Officials Try to Reduce Consumer Crime Against Hispanics. Officials found that Hispanics are frequently victims of mortgage, car, and credit card crimes but often fail to report the cases because of fear, poor English, or ignorance of the law. A representative from Centro de la Comunidad in Baltimore observed that simply translating documents into Spanish is insufficient - the approach has to be bi-cultural to reach Hispanics. Montgomery held a successful consumer outreach program for Hispanics in October, 2004, co-sponsored by the AARP and the Federal Trade Commission. (Washington Post, June 24, 2005:B2)(http://www.washingtonpost.com/)
Maryland ADAPT will hold its Fun*Run for Disability Rights for the Fifteenth Birthday of the Americans with Disabilities Act on Saturday, July 23rd. At the Fun*Run, people walk, roll, or jog around a track - each person raising a donation from sponsors who pay for each lap they cover. A flat donation to the runner also is gladly accepted. Groups and runners from across Maryland will be participating. The beginning will be at the YMCA at Stadium Place, 900 E. 33rd Street, Baltimore. For more information, contact Maryland ADAPT, P. O. Box 36006, Baltimore, Maryland 21286, or email@example.com.
DID YOU KNOW?
HUD's First Study of its Officer Next Door and Teacher Next Door Programs Finds Decrease in Crime. The programs were developed in the 1990s to encourage these professionals to move into low and moderate-income neighborhoods designated as revitalization zones to hopefully strengthen these communities. The study of the experiences in Rialto, California, and Spokane, Washington, found "where there are high numbers of participating teachers and officers in a neighborhood, crime will decrease." The study did not address whether the programs were merely shifting crime from one neighborhood to another. (Research Works, March, 2005:2,7) (http://www.huduser.org/publications/COMMDEVL/OND_TNDProgEval.html)(800-245-2691)
You've Got to See www.firstgov.gov. As long as we are in a federal kind of mind, check out the U. S. Government's "official web portal." Really! There is a lot of information and links there: http://www.firstgov.gov/. Information about governments, grants, auctions, libraries, the Do Not Call list, passports, zip codes, lottery results, on and on.
Contact the GBCHRB for FREE Fair Housing Info, Brochures, & Posters in English, Spanish, Korean, and Russian: 410-453-9500 / 800-895-6302 / firstname.lastname@example.org.
The GBCHRB's Neighborhood Beat TV Show Is on Cable Stations Throughout Maryland! Hosted by Dr. Bill Kladky, the 30-minute interview show runs in Baltimore City, and the counties of Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Carroll, Howard, Calvert, St. Mary's, Talbot, Prince George's, and Montgomery! Call us at 410-453-9500 for days and times!