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Report: People with Emotional Support Animals Face High Levels of Discrimination in Housing

Posted on 18. Nov, 2019 by in Enforcement Media & Pubs, Participate (for sidebar), Reports, Uncategorized

The Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center (GNOFHAC) released a new investigation showing only one in five landlords would accept an emotional support animal in accordance with fair housing laws. Over the past two years, GNOFHAC has seen a significant increase in the number of fair housing complaints lodged concerning assistance or emotional support animals— usually dogs. 

The testing investigation involved mystery shoppers posing as prospective renters and contacting 60 housing providers in New Orleans and Baton Rouge to inquire about whether they would be willing to make a reasonable accommodation for an emotional support animal. For testing purposes, the emotional support animal was a golden retriever named Charlie.

Though news coverage has sometimes focused on perceived abuses or fringe examples of emotional support animals, like peacocks, research shows that veterans suffering from PTSD and millions of others dealing with disabling depression or anxiety have seen great benefits from emotional support animals. 

The breakdown of housing provider responses to the request for an emotional support animal included:

· Flat out denial (40%)
· Offered no final answer (20%)
· Imposed additional fees and conditions (20%)
· Approved request in accordance with Fair Housing laws (20%)

The investigation revealed that the vast majority of landlords tested were either ignorant of their responsibilities under fair housing laws, or worse, skeptical of the testers’ disability and need for an animal.

Read the full audit, “No Happy Tail: Emotional Support Animals in Housing,” here.

New Orleans Substandard Rental Housing Crises Continues

Posted on 30. Jan, 2017 by in Education Media & Pubs, Participate (for sidebar), Reports, Uncategorized

New Orleans is a majority-renter city. Updated American Housing Survey (AHS) data released this month reveals that thousands of families continue to live in substandard rental housing. Despite slight improvements in housing quality, the 2015 AHS data reveals consistent housing trends since the last time AHS data was released in 2011. Housing quality is not keeping pace with recent dramatic increases in rent.

Read the full issue brief here

Practical Steps to End Poverty for Families in the Housing Choice Voucher Program

Posted on 20. Jan, 2016 by in Education Media & Pubs, Participate (for sidebar), Reports, Uncategorized

The largest affordable housing program in New Orleans serves one-quarter of all renters, but leaves them segregated in farther-flung, high-poverty neighborhoods. With assistance from HUD, the Housing Authority of New Orleans (HANO) has an invaluable opportunity to utilize new tools and provide real housing choice to voucher families.


Report: Criminal Background Policies Used as a Cover for Discrimination

Posted on 25. Sep, 2015 by in Education Media & Pubs, Participate (for sidebar), Reports, Uncategorized

The Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center (GNOFHAC) released a new investigation revealing that New Orleans area housing providers treated prospective renters with criminal backgrounds differently based on the applicants’ race. The study, LOCKED OUT: Criminal Background Checks as a Tool for Discrimination, analyzes a testing investigation of 50 area housing providers, in which mystery shoppers posing as prospective renters inquired about rental availability and the apartment’s criminal background policy.  Of the 50 site-visit tests conducted, African American testers experienced discrimination 50% of the time.

Testing revealed that agents often provided inconsistent information about background policies, and that white prospective tenants were much more likely to be quoted more lenient policies.  Further, policies that were either discretionary—that evaluated prospective tenants on a “case by case” basis—or ambiguous favored white prospective tenants over African Americans 55% of the time.

Discrimination against African American testers took many forms:

  • Unequal application of discretionary policies
  • Preferential treatment and exceptions to standing policies for white tenants
  • Waiving criminal background check fees for white tenants
  • Waiving the criminal background check altogether for white tenants

Read the full report here.


Report: African American Renters Face High Rate of Discrimination in New Orleans Upscale Neighborhoods

Posted on 23. Jan, 2015 by in Education Media & Pubs, Participate (for sidebar), Reports

The Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center (GNOFHAC) released a new report revealing troubling levels of housing discrimination against African Americans in New Orleans’ high opportunity neighborhoods. The study, Where Opportunity Knocks the Doors Are Locked, found that African American mystery shoppers posing as prospective renters were either denied the opportunity to rent or received less favorable treatment than white mystery shoppers 44% of the time in New Orleans neighborhoods that offer high opportunity levels to families.

Equally qualified black and white testers with matching incomes, career paths, family types, and rental histories attempted to view and apply for 50 apartment units. The paired tests were designed to hold all variables constant except race.

Discrimination against African American testers took multiple forms, including:

  • Refusal to respond to African American testers’ inquiries
  • Giving African American testers the runaround
  • Providing favorable treatment and incentives to white testers, but not African American testers
  • Making stereotypical assumptions about African American testers

Read the full report here.

For Rent: Unsafe, Overpriced Home for the Holidays

Posted on 23. Jan, 2015 by in Education Media & Pubs, Participate (for sidebar), Reports

The Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center (GNOFHAC), the Greater New Orleans Housing Alliance (GNOHA) and Southeast Louisiana Legal Services (SLLS) released a white paper that reveals the prevalence of unsafe and unhealthy conditions in the City’s rental homes, in spite of rapidly rising rents.  The data is coupled with stories of frustration from New Orleans renters, which indicate that there is no functional system to process complaints from tenants or inspect rental properties for basic standards of quality and safety.Unsafe home for the holidays. Read the report here.

People’s Analysis of Impediments (AI) to Fair Housing

Posted on 28. Aug, 2014 by in Reports

Screen Shot 2014-08-28 at 5.30.46 PMCreated by a working group led by the Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center and the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, the “People’s AI” is an assessed on  New Orleans’ 2010 Analysis of Impediments, and recommendations for action the City of New Orleans should consider adopting in order to expand fair housing. Read the report here.

GNOFHAC Commentary Published in the ABA’s Journal For Affordable Housing And Community Development

Posted on 20. Mar, 2014 by in 2014 News, Blog, Education Media & Pubs, News, Participate (for sidebar), Reports, Uncategorized

Screen Shot 2014-03-20 at 12.21.48 PMAssistant Director Kate Scott and Development and Communications Coordinator Marlene Theberge discuss GNOFHAC’s work in Volume 22-2 of the American Bar Association’s Journal of Affordable Housing & Community Development Law — click here for the full article.


Posted on 14. May, 2012 by in Education Media & Pubs, Enforcement Media & Pubs, Reports

In March, 2012, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) published a new rule that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity or marital status in HUD housing programs.  Read the full text of the rule here, or see GNOFHAC’s fact sheet and HUD’s fact sheet on the rule below.

HUD fact sheetDownload LGBT Rule Fact Sheet

On April 11, 2012 GNOFHAC held a community forum to discuss the new LGBT rule.  Below are some questions that arose during the event and their answers.

1.  Where does the definition of sexual orientation (and gender identity) come from? Some individuals felt that they do not identify as homosexual, bisexual or heterosexual, and that this definition could be seen as limiting.

The definition of sexual orientation came from a publication by the Office of Personnel Management entitled, ‘‘Addressing Sexual Orientation in Federal Civilian Employment: A Guide to Employee Rights.’’  The definition of gender identity came from the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act. During the comment period for the rule, a few commenters expressed concerns similar to those of the individuals at your presentation: that the definitions were too limiting and could exclude people. However, HUD felt it was best to use definitions already set in federal policy, and stated in the final rule that “HUD seeks to experience how (these) term(s) will work in practice before making changes to a definition currently established in federal policy.”
2.  It seems limiting that the rule is called the “LGBT rule” which de-emphasizes the marital status part of the rule.  It’s a missed opportunity to focus on the widespread impact of the marital status clause on LGBT and non-LGBT individuals. Could you explain why it is called the LGBT rule?

“LGBT Rule” is really just the shorthand nickname that HUD has taken to using, mainly because its full name is a mouthful. That being said, others have taken to calling it the “Equal Access” rule, to emphasize that the rule covers not just LGBT individuals, but unmarried heterosexual (or homosexual) couples. Regardless of its shorthand name, our education and outreach efforts around the rule strive to teach the public about the contents of the rule, which of course includes protections of sexual orientation, gender identity, and marital status.
3.  Will the Church challenge this rule, especially the provision that religious organizations that receive HUD funding must comply?

Religious institutions (and the public generally) had the opportunity to comment on the proposed rule’s content during the notice and comment period, which occurred from January to March 2011. Now that the rule has been made final, there is no administrative way to challenge the rule. If a religious organization (or any other organization) does not want to comply with the rule, they can make the choice to not pursue HUD funds. If the entity receives funds, they must comply with the rule.
4.  Do those at HUD foresee this redefinition of family leading to the expansion of the definition of family in other program areas, like education and employment (ex. Arizona school systems have an expanded definition of family because of the cultural diversity within the community.)

We at HUD can’t really speculate if other agencies, federal or state, will clarify or modify the definition of “family” that is used in their programs. However, as HUD is the first agency to initiate rulemaking to ensure that its core programs are open to all individuals regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, and marital status, we hope that our rule can serve as a model for other agencies when they consider how to ensure equal access to their programs.


Strategies To Affirmatively Further Fair Housing: Proposals for the City of New Orleans

Posted on 27. Apr, 2011 by in 2011 News, Enforcement Media & Pubs, Enforcement News, News, Reports

On April 27, 2011, the Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center (GNOFHAC) and national partner the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law (LCCRUL) released a handbook entitled “Strategies to Affirmatively Further Fair Housing: Proposals for the City of New Orleans Comprehensive Zoning Ordinance and Beyond” to address impediments to fair housing in New Orleans. Copies of the handbook have been distributed to members and staff of the City Planning Commission (CPC). GNOFHAC hopes that Commission members will adopt the suggestions laid out in the handbook in the development of the new Comprehensive Zoning Ordinance in order to ensure a more just, economically integrated, and livable New Orleans.

Download report

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