On April 26, 2012 in the case of Tracey equivalent of two month’s rent, allow v. Solesky, the Maryland Court of Appets, but exclude pit bulls, limit the numpeals ruled that pit bulls are “inherently ber of dogs a tenant may have, or take dangerous.” Clarity immediate action if of what defines a dog the tenant is suspected as a “pit bull” is still of violating the lease needed. This ruling by having a pit bull. has the potential to Tenants impact many tenanTenants should know cies in the state of that owning a pit bull Maryland by increasis not an automatic ing a landlord’s liabilcause to have a lease ity if his or her tenant terminated, or to be owns a pit bull. In evicted. No matter that a landlord may be the circumstances, a sued based on a tenlandlord is compelled ants’ behavior, tenby law to go through The Pit Bull ants may be forced to Much maligned and feared, Maryland a court process to remove or euthanize legislation addresses the pit bull issue. evict a tenant. their pets in order to keep their homes. The Lease The prospect of such liability leaves All conditions governing ownership of room for the possibility of tenants who pets should be clearly stated in the lease. own pit bulls to be asked to get rid of For existing tenancies, the landlord can their pet or risk their leases not being chose to alter the terms and conditions of renewed. the lease at the time of renewal. If nothing is included in the lease about the Landlords terms of pet ownership, then it is not a If a landlord has a tenant with a pit bull violation of the lease for the tenant to there are legal options that may offer have a pit bull in their home. protection: A landlord can charge extra rent to a tenant who owns a pit bull, In principle, Baltimore Neighborhoods, charge a pet deposit not to exceed the Inc. supports legislation that will make Maryland residents safe. Our organization does not have an opinion on the Also in this issue: Page dangerousness or character of the pit bull breed. To learn the facts about this isBNI Translation Project 2 sue, it is important to investigate and Fair Housing Matters 2 research as much as possible. Making Connections Fair Housing Across the Nation Dickens War ield Fair Housing Award Tester Calendar Customer Service Volunteers Needed
2 3 4 4 4
Read the law here: http://scholar.google.com/scholar_case? q=Tracey+v.+Solesky&hl=en&as_sdt=2 ,21&case=2310089339884864665&scilh =0
Baltimore Neighborhoods, Inc. to hold its 2012 Annual Meeting on May 23rd BNI will hold its 2012 Annual Meeting on May 23rd at the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland, 4 University Parkway, Baltimore, Maryland. The keynote speaker will be Melody Taylor Blancher, U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity Regional Director. Ms. Blancher will address fair housing trends across the nation with a focus on Maryland. BNI will also honor three individuals for their service to the organization: Chris Brown, Esq. of Brown Goldstein Levy will receive the first annual BNI Dickens Warfield Fair Housing Award. The BNI Elizabeth Shipley Volunteer Award will be given to Leslie Kornreich and Frank Hom for their translations of BNI informational materials.
BNI Translation Project Underway For the past two years BNI has been working to translate its informational materials into Spanish. Despite several challenges to the process, staff is pleased to announce that its Tenant Introduction Packet and Landlord Introduction Packet are now available to in Spanish and Mandarin. Special thanks to Dr. Kerry Ose, BNI’s Volunteer Maryland Coordinator. Dr. Ose had the good fortune to enlist two volunteers who welcomed
Housing discrimination is as relevant today as it has ever been. Unfortunately, race remains a key factor in the quality of goods and services such as housing, schools, employment, community amenities and access to public transportation. For many, the issue of transportation—where to or not to extend a particular The process of translating BNI informabus route or to construct a metro rail station— tional materials is not complete. There is has served as the linchpin by which housing much more to be done. The BNI staff discrimination remains prevalent throughout invites anyone interested in assisting with the country. Communities often protest extranslations to contact Dr. Kerry Ose at panding public transportation into neighbor410-243-4468. hoods to limit access for those deemed undesirable. Limiting access to any community by any group, organization or individual is a form of housing discrimination which inhibits integrated, diverse and culturally robust communities. the opportunity to provide translations. On May 23, 2012, Ms. Leslie Kornreich and Mr. Frank Hom will be honored for their work at BNI’s Annual Meeting. The BNI Board and staff extend heartfelt and sincere thanks for their contributions.
Transportation has become the forgotten issue in the fair housing movement. Nevertheless it has a tremendous impact on the ability of affirmatively furthering fair housing. There are many who advocate that Fair Housing law Leslie Kornreich Frank Hom should encompass aspects of transportation, specifically its role in expanding or restraining A special thanks to Mr. Bernard Kleina — fair the opportunities for citizens to live where housing activist and social justice photographer they chose. An excellent example of the con— for allowing BNI to use his beautiful images nection between transportation and fair housfor our 2012 Annual Meeting invitations. Thank ing can be found with the proposed Red Line. you, Bernie. The BNI family wishes you well in In Baltimore City, one of the major developall of your endeavors. ment projects gaining headlines is the projected construction of the Red Line rail system. Fair Housing Matters: BNI Complaint Protocol The Red Line project has supporters, but there Credible data demonstrate that discrimi- complaint possible. are nearly as many who oppose the construcnation in the rental or purchase of housOnce a complaint has been investigated, tion of a new rail system because of what it ing remains one the nation’s most imBNI offers several avenues for possible would represent for their communities. The portant social justice issues. Rarely blaongoing battle between public transportation resolution: writing letters requesting tant, it often presents as subtle, neutral, disability accommodations or modifica- expansion, and its possible retraction, highand sometimes legal. BNI remains lights the importance of considering how fair tions, forwarding complaints to the apsteadfast in its goal of ensuring that all housing connects with Maryland’s future for propriate local and federal agencies, Marylanders have fair housing choiceresidential, commercial and tourist developtesting the target of the complaint, and the ability to choose where they want to ments. identifying other resources for possible live without fear of discrimination. Unresolution. An article prepared for the Transportation Eqder federal law, it is illegal to discrimiuity Network Conference in 2009 explained Any Maryland resident who suspects nate based on race, color, sex, religion, what happens when transportation’s influence that they have been victimized by disdisability, family status, and national on communities is not taken into consideracriminatory housing practices should origin. Maryland adds the following tion, “…spending on highways and roads in protected classes: marital status, sexual contact Lisa Kelly, Esq. at BNI new suburbs and exurbs…has played a major (firstname.lastname@example.org). The comorientation, and genetic information. role in hollowing out of our core cities and the plaint process is completely confidenBNI recently reviewed and updated its destabilizing of our many older suburbs. As a tial. Two of the best tools for ending intake protocols to assist residents who result, we are left with deep pockets of discriminatory housing practices are wish to make formal fair housing comreporting and investigating. Don’t be a debilitating poverty and many metropolitan plaints. Along with basic demographic regions segregated by both class and race.” victim! A formal complaint is the first information, staff asks questions aimed step toward identifying and eradicating at compiling the most comprehensive Continued on page 4) housing discrimination in our state. “For as long as there is residential segregation, there will be de facto segregation in every area of life.” Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Fair Housing Across the Nation For many the issue of housing discrimination is believed to have been resolved in the sixties. More often than not, during outreach events, BNI staff often have to define what the terms “fair housing” or “fair housing choice” mean. Seldom is there an immediate connection between the terms and the concept (and law) of equal housing opportunities for everyone. Housing discrimination remains as relevant today as it was in the sixties. These excerpts serve to remind us that our nation continues to grapple with the issue of housing discrimination. Fair Housing is the law!
U.S. Justice Department Files Suit against Mortgage Bankers New York-The U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York filed a lawsuit alleging that GFI Mortgage Bankers Inc., a mortgage banker with operations in seven states, violated federal fair lending laws by charging AfricanAmerican and Hispanic borrowers higher interest rates and fees on home mortgage loans because of their race or national origin, not based on their credit history. The suit alleges that from 2005 through at least 2009, GFI charged higher loan prices to African-Americans and Hispanics than similarly-situated white borrowers. An African-American borrower paid on average of approximately $7,500 more over the first four years of the loan than a white borrower. For the Hispanic borrower, the difference was approximately $5,600 more over the first four years.
DOJ Settles Suit Alleging Discrimination against Women on Maternity Leave Pennsylvania-The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) recently announced that it settled its lawsuit against the Mortgage Guaranty Insurance Corporation (MGIC) for violation of the Fair Housing Act by discriminating against women on maternity leave. The settlement is the first involving discrimination against women and families in mortgage insurance. The lawsuit alleged that MGIC required women on maternity leave to return to work before the company would insure their mortgages, even for women who had a guaranteed right to return to work after the leave. Most mortgage lenders require applicants seeking to borrow more than 80 percent of their home’s value to obtain mortgage insurance. The settlement establishes a $511,250 fund to compensate 70 individuals who the suit identified as aggrieved by the alleged discriminatory treatment. The settlement also requires MGIC to pay a
$38,750 civil penalty to the United States. Learn more at www.justice.gov/ fairhousing.
HUD-Severe Penalties for Reverse Mortgage Scam-Four Jailed Florida-The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) recently announced the indefinite debarment of three South Florida mortgage loan officers and a Pittsburgh title agent following criminal convictions on charges that they defrauded elderly borrowers in a $2.5 million nation-wide reverse mortgage scam. Reverse mortgages allows seniors to convert their home’s equity into a monthly stream of income, or a line of credit. The elderly victims lived in seven different states between May 2009 and November 2010. According to the complaint, the loan officers used their positions to identify financially vulnerable seniors and pressured them to refinance their existing mortgages into an FHAinsured reverse mortgage or Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM), and that the title agent fraudulently closed the loans by failing to pay off the borrowers’ existing mortgages. All four individuals are currently serving prison terms, and have been ordered to make restitution. Learn more at www.hud.gov.
Discrimination Uncovered at Texas Housing Agency Texas- U.S. District Chief Judge Sidney Fitzwater recently ordered The Texas Department of Housing and Community
Affairs to file within 60 days a plan to alleviate the discriminatory impact of its work. Although the Judge found that the housing agency unintentionally discriminated against minorities through its policies and decisions, it was also decided that: • The housing agency staff and board used its power over development subsidies to push low-income housing on minority neighborhoods; and • Failed to prove that it had the least discriminatory alternative that would advance its interests to provide lowincome housing subsidies in a fair and transparent way. Learn more at email@example.com
NFHA files Suit Against Wells Fargo Bank Recently, the National Fair Housing Alliance (NFHA) issued a report on the findings of its nationwide REO (Real Estate Owned) properties investigation. The report offers disturbing evidence that, “the same banks that peddled unsustainable loans to communities of color and triggered the current foreclosure crisis are now exacerbating damage to those communities by failing to maintain and market those properties with the same diligence and attention paid to properties owned in white areas.” The report details the results of the evaluation of more than 1,000 REO properties nationwide. Baltimore Maryland is one of the cities cited in the complaint. As a follow-up to its findings, NFHA filed a discrimination complaint in federal court alleging that Wells Fargo “has engaged in a systemic practice of maintaining and marketing its foreclosed, bank-owned properties in a state of disrepair in communities of color while maintaining and marketing REO properties in predominantly White communities in a far superior manner.” For more read the report from the undercover investigation: The Banks Are Back, Our Neighborhoods Are Not: Discrimination in the Maintenance and Marketing of REO Properties. Go to www.nationalfairhousing.org.
BNI Announces the Dickens Warfield Fair Housing Award On May 23, 2012 Baltimore Neighborhoods, Inc. will honor Christopher Brown of the law firm Brown Goldstein Levy as the first recipient of the BNI Dickens Warfield Fair Housing Award On October 21, 2011, beloved friend, mentor, advocate and BNI board member, Dr. Dickens Warfield died. Known to all as “Dickens,” Dr. Warfield dedicated much of her life to working for and with BNI to eradicate housing discrimination in Maryland. Well into her eighties, Dickens could easily have played the role of the little old lady on any stage, but that image crumbled at the feet of her intellect, energy and stamina. During her tenure at BNI, Dickens Dr. Dickens Warfield consistently worked and volunteered in every capacity imaginable. At BNI she was a woman of substance who’d found her calling in the work of ending housing discrimination. BNI owes so much to Dickens Warfield. In large measure it is because of her diligent research, publications and tireless efforts that BNI is known for its work throughout the state. It was under her guidance that BNI fair housing staff learned how to best carryout the BNI mission. Through her passing BNI has lost a great friend and an immeasurable amount of institutional knowledge, both losses that can never be recovered. To honor the memory of Dr. Dickens Warfield, the BNI fair housing award has been renamed. The new name is The BNI Dickens Warfield Fair Housing Award. The 2012 award will be given to Christopher Brown, of Brown Goldstein and Levy for his years of support in successfully moving BNI litigation forward.
Christopher Brown, Esq. will be honored with the BNI Dickens Warfield Fair Housing Award at its May 23rd Annual Meeting. Mr. Brown has had a long and impressive career as an attorney specializing in the areas of appeals, civil litigation, mediation and public interest litigation. He has argued three cases before the US Supreme Court and litigated a series of Voting Rights Chris Brown, Esq. Act lawsuits that brought the first African-American office holders to many Maryland town and county councils. He was Professor of Law at the University of Maryland from 1975 to 2005, and has served there as Professor Emeritus of Law since then.
Mr. Brown holds degrees from Swarthmore College, the University of Delaware, and Georgetown University Law Center. He has been honored as one of the “Top 50 Super Lawyers” in Maryland, and won the Daily Record’s Leadership in Law award. He is a Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers, and has served on the BNI Legal Committee for well over a decade.
(Making Connections — From page 2)
What can fair housing organizations and forward thinking individuals do to ensure government officials and community developers understand the role that transportation has in ensuring fair housing choice? In the case of Baltimore, Maryland, BNI recommends that if constructed, the Red Line system provide equal access and the same amenities in the lower income community that is offered to a higher income community.
You Can Make A Difference! Stand with BNI as we work for Maryland families and their right to fair housing choice. BNI works to ensure that all Marylanders are treated fairly when purchasing or renting a home. We need your help. Become a BNI member by purchasing a tax-deductible membership. For additional information, call Barbara Wilson at 410-243-4468. Memberships levels are: Individual $35 Family $50 . Non-Profit $75 Business $100. Send your tax-deductible check to: 2530 N. Charles Street, Suite 200, Baltimore, MD 21218 or make your payment on our website at www.BNI-Maryland.org/index-16.html
Are you Looking for a Worthwhile Cause? BNI Needs Customer Service Volunteers! BNI’s Administration Department seeks volunteers for Monday—Friday, to greet its guests and answer the administrative phone lines. An excellent telephone manner and the ability to take down and relay accurate messages is our only absolute requirement. Your volunteering will go a long way in supporting BNI’s efforts to eradicate discriminatory housing practices throughout the state. Basic computer skills a plus! Visit BNI’s website (www.bni-maryland.org) to learn more about what we do. Contact Barbara Wilson at 410243-4468 for more information. This is an excellent opportunity for retired seniors with office experience.
BNI Baltimore Neighborhoods, Inc. (BNI) is a nonprofit organization incorporated in March 1959. BNI is committed to fighting housing discrimination, supporting integrated communities, improving relations between tenants and landlords, providing community education and advocating for persons with disabilities on housing accessibility issues. Contact BNI: Write:
2530 N. Charles Street Suite 200 Baltimore, MD 21218 E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Phone: 410-243-4468 FAX: 410-243-1342 Web: www.BNI-Maryland.org
05/17/2012 - Movie & Pizza Night for BNI Testers 6:00 P @ BNI. RSVP to email@example.com. 05/25/2012 - Tester Training 10:00 A @BNI - TO REGISTER, call 410-243-4468 and ask for Kerry