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GNOFHAC Executive Director James Perry Honored with Prestigious Lawyer’s Committee Award

Posted on 11. Dec, 2006 by in 2006 News, News

On December 11, 2006, Executive Director James Perry of the Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center (GNOFHAC) will receive the Frank R. Parker Client Award from the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under the Law. The award will be presented to Mr. Perry at the Lawyers’ Committee’s Annual Award Reception, to be held in New York City.

The Lawyers’ Committee is a non-partisan, non-profit organization that attempts to involve the private bar in addressing racial injustice. It was founded in 1963 at the request of President John F. Kennedy. Post-Katrina, the Lawyers’ Committee has assisted GNOFHAC in fighting housing discrimination in the region. For example, the Committee is assisting with GNOFHAC’s recent lawsuit against St. Bernard Parish regarding its discriminatory blood relative ordinance.

12-11-06 Download the press release here

Fair Housing Center Files Lawsuit Against the Housing Authority of New Orleans and River Garden Apartments

Posted on 04. Dec, 2006 by in 2006 News, News

Dasha Corner and the Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center (GNOFHAC) filed a lawsuit Monday, December 4, 2006 against the Housing Authority of New Orleans (HANO) and LGD Rental 1, LLC, doing business as River Garden Apartments (River Garden), in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana. (Civil Action No. 06-10751). The lawsuit alleges that HANO and River Garden violated the Fair Housing Act and a 2003 Enforcement Agreement entered into between former residents of the St. Thomas public housing development, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and HANO. The Tulane Civil Litigation Clinic is representing both Ms. Corner and GNOFHAC in the federal lawsuit.

The parties reached an agreement resolving a portion of the lawsuit today in federal court, which was entered as an Order of the court by U.S. District Judge Peter Beer. This agreement will result in Ms. Corner being provided with keys and a unit at River Garden Apartments by 5 p.m. Plaintiffs’ claims for damages and further injunctive relief remain.

Specifically, the lawsuit alleges that for one full year after Hurricane Katrina, HANO and River Garden leased public housing units to employees of HANO and other ineligible households, rather than to former St. Thomas residents like Ms. Corner who were in dire need of housing and who were entitled to a preference for a unit at River Garden. Despite the fact that HANO and River Garden admitted Ms. Corner prior to Hurricane Katrina, and despite Ms. Corner’s repeated efforts over more than a year since Hurricane Katrina to obtain a unit at River Garden, HANO and River Garden continued to deny her a unit, instead renting the public housing units to individuals who did not have a preference to occupy the units in accordance with the 2003  Enforcement Agreement.

In addition, HANO continues to violate the Enforcement Agreement’s requirements with respect to quarterly reporting, document retention, and the advertising of available units to former St. Thomas residents.

James Perry, Executive Director of GNOFHAC, comments, “HANO and River Garden made a promise of better housing for any qualified former St. Thomas resident. That promise has not been met. Out of nearly 1,000 residents who lived at St. Thomas when it was demolished, only a small fraction have obtained housing at River Garden.”

According to Morgan Williams, a Tulane Civil Litigation Clinic student who assisted Ms. Corner with her fourth application to River Garden this fall, “In the face of countless obstacles over the past fifteen months, Ms. Corner has demonstrated profound determination in her efforts to apply to River Garden Apartments, and to locate a stable home for herself and her four year old daughter.”

Any other former St. Thomas residents in good standing who are interested in returning to the River Garden Apartments should contact the Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center (504) 596-2100.

12-4-06 Download the press release here

St. Bernard Parish Agrees to Halt Enforcement of Discriminatory Ordinance

Posted on 13. Nov, 2006 by in 2006 News, News, St. Bernard Parish

On November 13, 2006, St. Bernard Parish agreed to suspend enforcement of a September 2006 ordinance barring single-family homeowners from renting to anyone except blood relatives without the special permission of the Parish Council. The agreement comes on the heels of the filing of a motion for preliminary injunction last week by the Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center (GNOFHAC) and Wallace Rodrigue, both plaintiffs in the case.

11-13-06 Read the press release here

Fair Housing Center Opposes Jefferson Parish Resolution; Cites Potential Discriminatory Effects

Posted on 20. Oct, 2006 by in 2006 News, News

The Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center (GNOFHAC) opposes a resolution passed by the Jefferson Parish Council on Wednesday October 18, 2006. The resolution encourages the State to reject applications for tax credits to build apartment complexes and single family homes in Terrytown and Gretna. The resolution will likely discourage developers from pursuing the construction of multi-family housing in the areas. People with disabilities, African Americans, Latinos and low income families disproportionately rely on multi-family housing. Thus, the parish’s resolution may have an illegal, discriminatory effect on these protected populations. Prohibiting multi-family housing in similar cases has been found illegal and discriminatory in lawsuits relying on the federal Fair Housing Act, as amended in 1988.

GNOFHAC urges the Louisiana Housing Finance Authority to continue awarding tax credits in Jefferson and in every parish in Louisiana. Further, GNOFHAC calls on Jefferson to retract the resolution.

Jefferson Parish’s actions follow an alarming trend engaged in by area parishes to stem low-income and rental housing within their borders. For example, the Slidell City Council is in the final stages of passing a moratorium significantly limiting the construction of multi-family housing. Earlier this month, GNOFHAC filed suit against St. Bernard Parish for passing a zoning ordinance restricting rental of single family housing to blood relatives. GNOFHAC has received reports that St. James Parish may have a comparable blood relative ordinance.

GNOFHAC Executive Director James Perry comments, “This position by the Jefferson Parish Council is extremely disturbing. There is a dire shortage of housing in Southeast Louisiana right now. Rather than limit housing choices, the Parish should encourage housing opportunities for everyone.”

10-20-06
View the press release here

Fair Housing Center Files Suit Against St. Bernard Parish

Posted on 03. Oct, 2006 by in 2006 News, Enforcement News, News, St. Bernard Parish

The Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center (GNOFHAC) filed suit this morning against St. Bernard Parish in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana. The suit prays for a permanent injunction restraining St. Bernard Parish from enforcing its single-family and blood-relative ordinances.

GNOFHAC will host a news conference at 1:00 p.m. to provide details of the lawsuit. Additionally, attendees will hear from a landlord harmed by the discriminatory ordinance. The event will be held on the neutral ground near the intersection of St. Claude Ave. & Mehle Ave, in front of the St. Bernard Parish “Welcome,” sign.

GNOFHAC filed the lawsuit because the ordinance’s blood relative requirement will prevent St. Bernard homeowners with covered residences from renting to any person not of the owner’s own race and national origin. The most recent estimates from United States Census Data indicate that whites own nearly 93% of St. Bernard Parish owneroccupied housing. As a result, in most circumstances only whites would
be able to rent most single-family housing in the Parish.

10-3-06 Read the full press release here

Fair Housing Center Calls on St. Bernard Parish to Repeal Discriminatory Ordinance; Ordinance May Ban Non-White Renters

Posted on 22. Sep, 2006 by in 2006 News, News, St. Bernard Parish

The Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center (GNOFHAC) calls on St. Bernard Parish to repeal a discriminatory ordinance recently passed by the Parish Council. According to the St. Bernard Parish website, “Except with a special permit, owners who weren’t previously renting out a single-family residence in R-1 zones will now be prohibited from doing so unless the renter is a blood relative…” www.sbpg.net/sep2006.html.

The ordinance’s blood relative requirement will prevent St. Bernard homeowners with covered residences from renting to any person not of the owner’s own race and national origin. The most recent estimates from United States Census Data indicate that whites own nearly 93% of St. Bernard Parish owner-occupied housing. As a result, in most circumstances, only whites would be able to rent most single-family housing in the Parish.

The Fair Housing Act, as amended (The Act), expressly prohibits discrimination in the rental or sale of a dwelling on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, familial status, disability or national origin. 42 U.S.C. § 3604 (a). The Act has been interpreted to prohibit municipalities from using their zoning powers in a manner that excludes housing for a group of people on the basis of one of the enumerated classifications. The Act is violated even when seemingly neutral zoning policies have a discriminatory effect on a particular protected class and cause harm to a community through the perpetuation of segregation. As such, the Ordinance is likely illegal discrimination.

James Perry, GNOFHAC Executive Director comments, “Post-Katrina, citizens have partnered like never before, opening their hearts and homes to strangers. However, the St. Bernard Parish Council has taken action to shut St. Bernard’s door to just about anyone who isn’t white. We call on the Parish to reverse the ordinance immediately and ask any resident, homeowner, landlord or renter harmed by the Council’s actions to contact our office immediately.”

9-22-06 View the press release here

Local Fair Housing Center Receives $275,000 Enforcement Grant from U.S. Department of HUD to Further Equal Housing Opportunity

Posted on 22. Sep, 2006 by in 2006 News, News

On September 21, 2006 the Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center (GNOFHAC) received notice from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development that the organization will be funded at the maximum amount allotted under the Fair Housing Initiatives Program (FHIP)- $275,000.

The grant will allow GNOFHAC staff to continue enforcing the federal Fair Housing Act of 1968, which protects against housing discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, disability, familial status, and religion.

Fair Housing Center Marks Katrina Anniversary with the Release of Anti-Discrimination Campaign

Posted on 28. Aug, 2006 by in 2006 News, News

In commemoration of the one-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, the Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center (GNOFHAC) unveils a new fair housing advertising campaign. The campaign features one print public service announcement (PSA), one 30-second television PSA, and one 30-second radio PSA, each of which can be downloaded at www.gnofairhousing.org.

The campaign, created, produced and edited entirely by GNOFHAC staff, highlights discriminatory ads for housing posted on the Internet by housing providers shortly after Hurricane Katrina. The illegal ads included statements like “not racist, but white only,” “we would prefer a white couple,” and “to make things more understandable for our younger child we would like to house white children.”

Media outlets are urged to run the public service announcements in any and all available PSA slots. The ads are also being reproduced in Spanish. The translated versions will be available shortly.

Housing discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, disability, familial status, and religion is illegal according to the Fair Housing Act of 1968. GNOFHAC Executive Director James Perry remarks, “We hope that this ad campaign will both encourage victims of discrimination to report it and remind landlords, real estate agents, and others involved in housing transactions that discrimination will not be tolerated in New Orleans. A just rebuilding of New Orleans requires equal housing opportunity for everyone.”
The project was funded entirely by private funding and volunteer efforts.

Scroll down to view the television ad.

Click here for to hear the radio ad.

Click here to download the print ad.

Fair Housing Center Launches Hurricane Relief Project to Assist Homeowners with Mortgage and INsurance Issues

Posted on 23. May, 2006 by in 2006 News, News

Louisiana homeowners now have a new source of assistance to help resolve their mortgage difficulties and obtain equitable settlements on their hurricane related insurance claims.
The Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center (GNOFHAC), working with the National Fair Housing Alliance (NFHA) has launched the Hurricane Relief Project (The Project) to advocate on behalf of Hurricane affected Gulf Coast homeowners. Homeowners in need of assistance can contact GNOFHAC at 504-596-2100 or 877-445-2100.

Nearly ten months after Hurricane Katrina, many homeowners are still faced with foreclosure concerns and unsettled insurance claims. Moreover, as Gulf Coast residents seek new loans for repairs or home purchase, there is a serious concern that homeowners may fall prey to predatory lending schemes and inferior loan products. Through the Hurricane Relief Project, GNOFHAC will help homeowners confront these types of problems. GNOFHAC can explain the terms and conditions of new and existing mortgages and insurance policies. In addition to providing these services in New Orleans, Gulf Coast homeowners can receive assistance at Fair Housing Centers located in Gulfport, MS; Houston, TX; and Mobile, AL. Gulf Coast homeowners living in these areas can contact GNOFHAC for a referral to Fair Housing Centers outside of Greater New Orleans.

The Project was developed to ensure that homeowners rebuilding in the Gulf Coast have fair and equitable access to insurance and mortgage products. James Perry, GNOFHAC Executive Director comments, “because of our advocacy on the fair housing front, the Fair Housing Action Center is uniquely qualified to assist homeowners with hurricane lending and insurance issues. It is therefore, our privilege to serve the citizens of the State of Louisiana through the Hurricane Relief Project. Our partnership with the National Fair Housing Alliance
(NFHA) provides us the opportunity to play an even stronger role in ensuring that Louisiana
residents receive fair treatment in resolving their hurricane mortgage and insurance difficulties.”

5-23-06 Download the press release here

Fair Housing Director Testifies Before Congress About Discriminatory Internet Ads

Posted on 28. Feb, 2006 by in 2006 News, News

On February 28, 2006 at 11:00 a.m. eastern time, James Perry, Executive Director of the Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center (GNOFHAC) will testify before the House of Representatives Subcommittee for Housing and Equal Opportunity in Washington D.C.  Perry’s appearance was requested by Republican Chairman Bob Ney and ranking Democratic Member, Maxine Waters as a result of concerns raised by Perry during his January 13, 2006 testimony before the same Subcommittee in New Orleans, Louisiana.  Subcommittee members were particularly concerned about discriminatory advertising on five websites established to assist hurricane evacuees.
In his January 13th testimony, Perry quoted the following from Katrinahousing.org advertisements:

  • “I would love to house a single mom with one child, not racist but white only;”
  • “Not to sound racist but because we want to make things more understandable for our younger child we would like to house white children;”
  • “Provider would provide room and board for $400, prefers 2 white females;”
  • “Prefer white Catholic family, children welcome;” and
  • “Room available to single white mother with child or younger to middle aged white couple.”

Since discovering the ads, GNOFHAC has filed complaints against the five websites that carried them.
Perry remarked, “I am happy that Chairmen Ney and Representative Waters have taken the lead on this issue.  Through their leadership, I am hopeful that we can ensure that victims of future natural disasters won’t be forced to forfeit crucial housing opportunities because of the color of their skin, their national origin, gender or the fact they have children.”

2-28-06 A draft of Perry’s testimony is available here.