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Welcome our 2018 Summer Interns and Law Clerks!

Posted on 13. Jun, 2018 by in Blog

 

Madeline Aruffo is a third-year law student at Tulane University School of Law. Prior to law school, Madeline attended Boston University, and double majored in philosophy and psychology. She has a passion for housing equality and public interest law, and loves living in New Orleans. 

 

 

Cameron Bertron is the president of her second-year class at Tulane University Law School and serves on the executive board of the Entertainment and Art Law Society.  She grew up in North Florida and worked in film production in New York City before attending law school. Bertron earned her BFA from Florida State University.

 

 

   

Christopher Kerrigan is a second-year law student at Loyola New Orleans College of Law. Mr. Kerrigan previously served as a City Councilmember in Eureka, California from 2000-2008. Mr. Kerrigan has a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Humboldt State University and and Masters of Science in Political Psychology from Queen’s University Belfast. He also enjoys playing tennis.

 

 

Maya Newman is an undergraduate at Tulane University, majoring in Sociology and Social Policy and minoring in Public Health. She became passionate about fair housing policy as an intern at the New Orleans Mission, where she assisted formerly homeless people with their housing searches. Maya is excited to promote the right to safe, affordable, and fair housing for all in Louisiana. 

 

 

Aviv Rau is a senior at Wesleyan University in Connecticut, where she studies Sociology and American Studies. Outside of the classroom, Aviv is engaged with Connecticut’s labor rights movement and co-hosts a podcast called Unwind the Line. An Atlanta native, Aviv is excited to spend the summer in New Orleans interning with GNOFHAC’s Education and Outreach department. 

 

 

Patrick Wroe, originally from Austin, Texas, is interning this summer with GNOFHAC through the Leadership in Educational Equity Summer Fellowship, in partnership with Teach for America. After graduating from Tulane University with a degree in finance, he joined Arthur Ashe Charter School as a 7th grade Special Education teacher and spent the past two years in the classroom ensuring his students received quality education. Patrick is excited to join GNOFHAC this summer and support the policy and advocacy work on fair housing issues throughout Louisiana.

 

Best Friends Day: Fair Housing and Assistance Animals

Posted on 08. Jun, 2018 by in Blog

June 8th is National Best Friends Day. For many, their best friend is their pet; for some, their furry friend isn’t just a pet, but an animal that provides necessary assistance or service they need due to a disability. Under the Fair Housing Act, housing providers are required to make reasonable and necessary accommodations to people with disabilities, including allowing a service or assistance animal. 

An assistance animal is an animal that works, provides assistance, or performs tasks for the benefit of a person with a disability, or provides emotional support that alleviates symptoms or effects of a person’s disability. For example, an assistance animal could be a cat that alleviates the symptoms of depression or anxiety. Any animal can be an assistance animal (as long as it it necessary and reasonable) and a housing provider must accept a letter from a doctor, psychiatrist, social worker, or someone familiar with the disability as proof of the need for an assistance animal.

A service animal is a dog or pony that is trained to do work or perform tasks for someone with a disability. For example, a service animal could be a guide dog, or a dog that can detect blood sugar changes in a person with diabetes and warn them if their blood sugar gets too high or too low. If the need for a service animal is not obvious, a housing provider may ask: (1) is this a service animal that is required because of a disability? and (2) what work or tasks has the animal been trained to perform?

Housing providers cannot charge a pet fee or pet deposit, or enforce breed or size restrictions, for a service or assistance animal. If your housing provide has denied your request for an accommodation due to a disability, such as allowing you to have an assistance or service animal, call the GNO Fair Housing Action Center at 877-445-2100.

Hurricane Season and the History of Unequal Disaster Risk

Posted on 04. Jun, 2018 by in Blog

The Atlantic Hurricane season officially started on June 1. The Data Center’s recent report, Rigging the Real Estate Market: Segregation, Inequality, and Disaster Risk, reminds us that disasters don’t affect everyone equally. The report highlights some of the history that led to an unfair disaster risk burden on people of lower-income and people of color in New Orleans.

Early in New Orleans’ history, wealthy New Orleanians were able to buy the land above sea level, while lower income residents, including free people of color, settled on lower ground. This made it so the homes of the white and wealthy were less susceptible to flooding.

Fast-forward to the levees failing after Katrina hit New Orleans in 2005, and while the storm displaced many people across the city, African American residents were more likely to be impacted by flooding than other groups: 68 percent of African Americans faced displacement, compared to 43 percent of whites.

The Road Home recovery program that awarded homeowners money to return and rebuild ultimately enforced patterns of segregation and inequality by giving larger monetary amounts to homeowners in predominantly white neighborhoods than homeowners in predominately African American neighborhoods based on either the home’s pre-storm value or the cost to rebuild, whichever was the lesser amount.

As a result, homeowners in segregated white neighborhoods, which had higher pre-storm values, received higher grant awards than homeowners in predominantly African American neighborhoods, who were frequently awarded the lower pre-storm value of the home. This was true even when the homes were the same size and age, and the damage was similar,” the report states. GNOFHAC filed a lawsuit against HUD and the State of Louisiana and reached a $62 million settlement in 2011.

A 2015 Louisiana State University report found that 70 percent of long-term white residents were able to return to New Orleans within one year, whereas only 42 percent of long-term black residents made it back in the same time period.

The faulty Road Home program was just part of the reason so many African American residents did not return to rebuild. Low-income and African American homeowners often did not know their homes were located in a floodplain because of outdated maps used by mortgage banks and insurance companies. For the working-class families that did have flood insurance, few had enough to cover a total loss of their home.

If you’re in the process of preparing for this year’s hurricane season, and you don’t have your own transportation to leave during a mandatory evacuation, go to your closest “evacuspot” to use City-assisted evacuation. Watch this video to find out more:

How you can get involved

Posted on 30. Apr, 2018 by in Blog

Today is the last day of Fair Housing Month, but our work for fair housing continues throughout the year. Here’s how you can get involved and continue to fight discrimination and segregation across Louisiana:

  1. Donate to GNOFHAC on Give NOLA Day 

    On Tuesday, May 1st, every dollar donated to New Orleans non-profits through givenola.org will be boosted by extra funds from the Give NOLA Lagniappe Fund. The goal of Give NOLA Day is to inspire the community to come together to support the work of local nonprofit organizations. GNOFHAC is the only full-service fair housing center in Louisiana, and your donation will fight for those who’ve been harassed, turned down or evicted because of who they are. Schedule your donation now!

  2. Sign-up for action alerts

    Our action page can help you stay engaged on all the issues that matter to you.  Please use this page to find and track legislation, look up your lawmaker, register to vote, and access tools you need to build a more inclusive community. Subscribe to our email list to stay up-to-date on GNOFHAC policy initiatives and community events.

  3. Become a tester

    Testers, also known as “mystery shoppers,” are people in the community who take on the role of a perspective homeowner or renter to help fair housing centers investigate discrimination. Testing involves using people with similar profiles, but who differ in one protected characteristic, such as race or family status. Testers need a flexible schedule and they are provided with a small stipend. 

  4. Invite GNOFHAC to do a fair housing training at your organization or school

    GNOFHAC provides trainings tailored to the needs of your organization. Participants of these trainings include landlords, real estate agents, management staff, mental health service providers, tenants, neighborhood associations, and many more. We also conduct fair housing workshops for students in grades K-8. Learn more about The Fair Housing Five and the Haunted House, GNOFHAC’s original children’s book that tells the story of kids who take action in their neighborhood in response to a landlord who is discriminating. It is designed to initiate conversations between parents, caregivers, teachers and children about housing discrimination, systemic inequality, and the important role that we all have in ending both.

     

Our 6th Annual Community Crawfish Boil

Posted on 26. Apr, 2018 by in Blog

Our 6th Annual Community Crawfish Boil was a success! Thank you to everyone who joined us in celebrating Fair Housing Month and the 50th anniversary of the Fair Housing Act. We appreciate all of your support! 

 

Posted on 16. Apr, 2018 by in Blog

Did you buy a home in the last 10 years in the Greater New Orleans area?

What do you know about your hazard insurance coverage?

What were you told about the hazards that your new home faces?

If you are over 18 years of age, we would like to hear about your experiences with property and hazard insurance, and your home’s risk disclosures. Please join a one-time discussion group on Saturday, May 12, hosted by The Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center (GNOFHAC) and the Gulf Coast Center for Law & Policy (GCCLP).

Participation DETAILS:

  • 1.5 hour discussion, located nearby
  • You will receive $25 cash for participation
  • Participation is voluntary. You may choose to withdraw or refuse to answer any questions that you are not comfortable with. Your participation will not affect any service you may or can receive from partners or others, such as insurance companies.
  • Your name and shared comments will be kept confidential by project staff.
  • Participation is limited to the first 14 people per session.
  • Only one person per household is eligible to participate.
  • The session will be conducted by staff from the Urban Institute, a nonprofit research organization based in Washington, DC, in coordination with the two local organizations—none of whom are affiliated with any builders, insurance company, or public agency.
  • This work is funded by the National Academy of Sciences’ Gulf Research Program, and statements you make during the discussion will be used to develop a survey of other Greater New Orleans residents.

TO RESERVE YOUR SPOT AND RECEIVE DETAILS,
PLEASE CALL 1 (504) 507-9909
or email HomeResilience@urban.org

Redlining and the Racial Wealth Gap

Posted on 16. Apr, 2018 by in Blog

As we reflect on the 50th anniversary of the Fair Housing Act, it is important to remember how present day segregation and inequality were created and maintained by generations of discriminatory housing policies.  One of the most significant was redlining, a practice where banks and insurance companies literally drew red lines around neighborhoods that were considered an unsafe investment, using racially explicit policies that targeted African-American neighborhoods and other communities of color. Redlining maps gave different color grades to each neighborhood: green being the “best;” blue–“still desirable,” yellow–“definitely declining,”, and red–“hazardous.”

Image: Mapping Inequality: Redlining in New Deal America, Digital Scholarship Lab, University of Richmond. To explore an interactive map of your neighborhood, check out Mapping Inequality from Richmond University’s Digital Scholarship Lab.

After World War I, the practice of redlining was adopted by the federal government, and it became even more damaging and widespread. It was government policy to deny African-Americans home loans and to actively enforce segregation: “incompatible racial groups should not be permitted to live in the same communities,” stated the Underwriting Manual of the Federal Housing Administration (FHA).


Photo Source: Trinity College Epress

Redlining was enforced not just by government policy, but also through industry practices. From 1924-1950, Article 34 of The Realtor Code of Ethics read, “A Realtor should never be instrumental in introducing into a neighborhood a character of property or occupancy, members of any race or nationality, or any individuals whose presence will clearly be detrimental to property values in that neighborhood.” Individual homeowners were at times complicit themselves. In many cases, restrictive covenants were written into the deeds of homes, stating that they could not be sold to anyone who was not “of the Caucasian race.” As a result of all of these actions, less than two percent of all FHA mortgages went to non-white families.

These policies not only prevented African-Americans from buying homes till 1968, it set up the racial wealth gap we see today: Median white wealth is twelve times higher than median black wealth, according to the Economic Policy Institute. In the article, Janelle Jones argues that “Overall, housing equity makes up about two-thirds of all wealth for the typical (median) household. In short, for median families, the racial wealth gap is primarily a housing wealth gap. This is no accident.” While white families accumulated wealth through homeownership, African-American families didn’t have the opportunity to invest and build equity in a home, making it harder for their children and grandchildren to buy homes.

In his powerful article, “The Case for Reparations,” Ta-Nehisi Coates writes that “when the mid-20th-century white homeowner claimed that the presence of a Bill and Daisy Myers decreased his property value, he was not merely engaging in racist dogma—he was accurately observing the impact of federal policy on market prices. Redlining destroyed the possibility of investment wherever black people lived.”

A recent study by the National Community Reinvestment Coalition found that neighborhoods marked by the Home Owner’s Loan Corporation as “hazardous” have lower incomes, more minorities and signs of gentrification.

While redlining has been illegal since the passage of the Fair Housing Act in 1968, it still occurs today. GNOFHAC, along with the Fair Housing Alliance and 18 other civil rights organizations, recently filed a federal lawsuit against Deutsche Bank for neglecting foreclosed homes in communities of color. While the bank owns properties in both predominately white communities as well as African-American communities, photographs show they neglected to maintain the bank-owned homes in communities of color, resulting in these homes having overgrown grass and weeds, unlocked doors and windows, broken doors and windows, dead animals decaying, and trash and debris left in yards, while homes in white neighborhoods were kept free of debris and trash and had secured windows and doors.

“The neglected appearance of Deutsche Bank-owned homes in middle- and working-class neighborhoods of color destroys the homes’ curb appeal for prospective homebuyers and invites vandalism because the homes appear to be abandoned. Additionally, the blight created by Deutsche Bank/Ocwen/Altisource results in a decline in home values for African American and Latino families who live next door or nearby, deepening the racial wealth gap and inequality in America,” states GNOFHAC’s News Release.

In another recent example of redlining, The Department of Housing and Urban Development filed charges on behalf of the National Fair Housing Alliance (FHA) in January 2017, accusing Bank of America and two of its employees of lending discrimination. The National Fair Housing Alliance conducted mystery shopper tests with white and Latino applicants both pretending to be prospective mortgage borrowers in South Carolina. The NFHA investigation found that the Latino applicants were consistently given inferior loan options compared to the white applicants, and therefore Bank of America was discriminating based on national origin, one of the protected classes under the Fair Housing Act. The case settled in May 2017, with Bank of America agreeing to contribute more than $400,000 to support fair housing in South Carolina.

While 50 years have passed since redlining and all forms of housing discrimination were made illegal under the Fair Housing Act, the effects of discriminatory housing practices persist today. As the examples above show, redlining still occurs and helps to further segregation and inequality, which is especially damaging when carried out on a large-scale by banks and institutions. If you think you have experienced discrimination by a bank, insurance company, or other housing provider, call the GNO Fair Housing Action Center at (877) 445-2100.

The 50th Anniversary of the Fair Housing Act

Posted on 11. Apr, 2018 by in Blog

Today marks the 50th Anniversary of the Fair Housing Act. On April 11, 1968, exactly one week after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the Fair Housing Act was finally signed into law after years of struggle. The proximity of these two significant events is not coincidental. Dr. King had moved to Chicago in 1966 to join the Open Housing Movement, which fought to end segregation and advocated for housing justice. The Fair Housing Act was passed in part to honor his work. Perhaps just as significantly, mass unrest erupted after Dr. King’s assassination and the warnings of the Kerner Commission report, which argued only a few months prior that rioting was caused by systemic racism, seemed to be coming true. Lawmakers were faced with the reality that they could no longer maintain “two societies, one black, one white – separate and unequal” without devastating consequences.

On this day we celebrate that the Fair Housing Act protects all of our rights to housing free from discrimination based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, disability, and family status. Though the Fair Housing Act has been in place for fifty years, we continue to find high rates of housing discrimination in communities across the country. We still need a strong Fair Housing Movement to work for neighborhoods that are welcoming, accessible and full of opportunities for all. You can support the Fair Housing Movement by learning more about GNOFHAC’s local work, signing up for action alerts, or donating to help fight housing discrimination.

Fair Housing Month Events

Posted on 02. Apr, 2018 by in Blog, Events

April 3rd: Landlord-Tenant and Fair Housing Laws: Understanding Your Rights and Responsibilities (Lafayette, LA)

GNOFHAC will conduct a training on landlord-tenant and fair housing laws from 9:30am-12:30pm at 301 W Congress St. in Lafayette, Louisiana. The training is free and open to the public.

April 5th: GNOFHAC presents at New Orleans City Council Meeting

GNOFHAC is speaking at the opening of Thursday’s Council Meeting at 10am to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the Fair Housing Act and share our upcoming events and trainings in honor of National Fair Housing Month. 

April 5th: Fair Housing and Gender-Based Violence Training (Monroe, LA)

GNOFHAC is partnering with Louisiana Foundation Against Sexual Assault for a training on fair housing, sexual assault and sexual harassment at the Public Safety Center at 1810 Martin Luther King Blvd. in Monroe from 1-4pm. There is no cost to participate, but please register here.

 

 

 


April 11th: The 50th Anniversary of the Fair Housing Act

VOTE and STAND with Dignity are having a Fair Housing for All Second Line on April 11th at 5pm, beginning at MLK Blvd. and Willow St.

 

 

 

 

 

April 14th: Fair Housing Workshop at LA Queer Conference

GNOFHAC will conduct a Know Your Rights Workshop at the Louisiana Queer Conference. Visit their website for more information or to register.

April 16th: Know Your Housing Rights Training at Tulane University

GNOFHAC is conducting a Know Your Rights Training at the Lavin Bernick Center at Tulane University on April 16th from 4:30-6pm. The training is free and open to the public.

 

 

 

April 19th: Know Your Rights Training at NORAPC

GNOFHAC is conducting a Know Your Housing Rights training with Southeast Louisiana Legal Services, Jane Place Neighborhood Sustainability Initiative, and the New Orleans Regional Aids Planning Council on April 19th from 5-7pm at NORAPC, 2601 Tulane Ave in the 2nd floor conference center. The training is free and open to the public. Please RSVP to Gregory at (504) 821-7334.

 

 

 

April 20th: Know Your Housing Rights and Responsibilities Training (Kenner, LA)

GNOFHAC is conducting a Know Your Housing Rights and Responsibilities Training on April 20th from 9:30-11:30am for tenants and landlords at the Martin Luther King Community Resource Center at 1042 31st St. in Kenner. The training is free and open to the public.

 

 

 

April 25th: 6th Annual Community Crawfish Boil

Join GNOFHAC for our 6th Annual Community Crawfish Boil on April 25th from 5:30-7:30pm. The event is free and open to the public.  

 

 

 

 

 

April 26th: Red Lines and Keep Out Signs: 300 Years of Discrimination, Divestment & Displacement In New Orleans

Join the GNOFHAC for a panel discussion on 300 years of segregation in New Orleans with Dr. Stacy Seicshnaydre, Associate Professor of Law at Tulane Law School, Dr. Robert Collins, Professor of Urban Studies and Public Policy at Dillard University, and Cashauna Hill, Executive Director at GNOFHAC. The panel will be moderated by Maxwell Ciardullo, Director of Policy and Communications at GNOFHAC. The panelists will discuss the findings of their new Data Center report, Rigging the Real Estate Market: Segregation, Inequality, and Disaster Risk, on April 26th from 6-8pm at Propeller Incubator, 4035 Washington Ave.

April 28th: Fair Housing Five and the Haunted House Story Time

Join GNOFHAC staff for a story time reading of our children’s book, Fair Housing Five and the Haunted House, at the Algiers Regional Library on Saturday, April 28th at 2:30pm. The story time is intended for ages 5 and up.

 

 

 

 

April 30th: Fair Housing 101 for Small Landlords

GNOFHAC is conducting a free fair housing training for small landlords on April 30th at Christ Church Cathedral Episcopal at 2919 St. Charles Ave. from 6-7:30pm. The presentation will include case studies and best practices tailored to the needs and experiences of small landlords.There is no cost to attend, but participants must register here.

Open Neighborhoods Project

Posted on 23. Feb, 2018 by in Blog

New Orleans is facing a growing affordability crisis. In a city where wages remain stagnant while rent prices continue to increase, 57% of renters spend at least a third of their income on rent and 31% of renters spend more than half.

The affordability crisis is pushing out the people who make the city special, including our musicians, seniors, and hospitality workers.

If you are a landlord or housing provider committed to preserving the New Orleans we love, join GNOFHAC and the Housing Authority of New Orleans (HANO) to learn more about opportunities to address this growing crisis, and meet fellow landlords committed to keeping New Orleans open to all.

GNOFHAC and HANO will be discussing the Housing Choice Voucher Program and we want to hear your advice on what can make the program work better for landlords. 

There is no commitment required, but please fill out this form if you are interested, and we will get back to you with more information.