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Therapy Ducks?
West Lafayette, Ohio is looking to change regulations regarding keeping farm animals in village limits, but it might not meet the satisfaction of a veteran fighting to keep his therapy ducks.
There's an update!  Welker fined $50 in therapy duck case, ordinance allows him to keep two. COSHOCTON – A veteran who was cited for keeping farm animals within village limits was found guilty Wednesday in Coshocton County Municipal Court. Darin Welker, 36, of West Lafayette was fined $50 for violating the ordinance. A veteran, Welker said the ducks help him cope with post traumatic stress disorder and depression he developed after serving a year in Iraq in 2005.  http://www.coshoctontribune.com/story/news/local/2014/10/29/veteran-found-guilty-therapy-duck-case/18114129/
Wait...there's more!
In the middle of last year, an Iraq veteran was convicted of violating a zoning ordinance in West Lafayette Ohio for keeping ducks at his home.  The court was not convinced that the ducks were a part of a treatment for PTSD.  Now the case is on appeal.  From the Canton Repository: "The appeal filed last month in Coshocton County court argues the ducks help maintain a calm environment and have been therapeutic for Welker, who served in Iraq and was medically discharged from the Guard.  His attorney argues that Welker has a medical need and was wrongly convicted."  Hint to the atty:  It would have been easier to request a reasonable accommodation and then file a complaint with Ohio Civil Rights Commission if the accommodation request was denied.

Pretty sympathetic version of the therapy ducks story This is worth a read...especially if you don't understand support animals. http://wosu.org/2012/news/2015/02/19/ohio-veteran-ptsd-fights-keep-pet-ducks/

Therapy ducks head to supreme court?
Cincinnati Enquirer is reporting that West Lafayette (Coshocten) resident Darin Welker is asking the Ohio Supreme Court to overturn his conviction for raising ducks in the city limits.  Welker's attorney is continuing to argue procedural issues in Welker's conviction for having farm animals at his home in the village when there's a perfectly valid claim for a reasonable accommodation.  Makes you wonder why Welker and attorney are following this strange approach?
    Enquirer writes:  "  A West Lafayette ordinance prohibited residents from keeping farm animals inside village limits. Officials charged him with that violation, a minor misdemeanor, on June 23, 2014. Judge Timothy France found him guilty Oct. 29 in Coshocton County Municipal Court, fined him $50 and assessed court costs.  Darin Welker appealed that verdict to the Ohio Fifth District Court of Appeals, which sided with France's ruling on June 29 of this year.  On Aug. 12, attorney Robert Weir, of Coshocton, filed a notice of appeal in the case with the Ohio Supreme Court, arguing that the due process clause of the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution guarantees Darin Welker's right to choose his medical care.  Weir argues that the case "involves a substantial constitutional question and a matter of public or great general interest."  He asks Ohio's high court to accept jurisdiction and review the case on its merits. The court may decide not to hear it, and so far, it has not scheduled any hearing on it."  
read the article here

Linden House (Rocky River) settles Fair Housing charge.
Cleveland.com reports:  Justice officials filed the lawsuit in September against the Zaremba Management Co., the Linden Apartment Co., and a property manager who worked at the Linden House Apartments on Linden Road in Rocky River.
Government prosecutors accused the defendants of violating the Fair Housing Act by refusing to rent units at Linden House to families with children. Prosecutors also accused the Linden House Apartment managers of evicting tenants or asking the tenants to leave if they had children while living there.
Although the Fair Housing Act allows apartment owners to reserve units for older persons and to limit residency to adults under certain circumstances, Linden House did not meet the requirements for this exemption, the justice officials said.
read more here:  http://www.cleveland.com/court-justice/index.ssf/2014/08/rocky_river_apartment_company.html#incart_river

Kent State Charged with Discrimination

Think before you legislate?  West Lafayette Ohio adopts Therapy Animals ordinance. 

WKSU reports that "HUD spokesperson Shantee Goode told WKSU that this is the first time a charge has been brought against a public university since a 2011 case involving the University of Nebraska at Kearny opened the door for such legal action.  In that case a federal judge ruled that campus housing is not exempt from the Fair Housing Act, and HUD argued that “FHA” protects the rights of students with disabilities to have service animals -- whether for commonly recognized assistance with things like blindness or deafness, or for something like emotional support.”  Kent State spokesman Eric Mansfield said the university is aware of the charges stemming from the claims made several years ago and will comment on the facts of the case at the appropriate time."  http://www.wksu.org/news/story/40195
Apparently KSU did not get the memo about the Nebraska case?  What is Google for?    http://journalstar.com/news/local/education/judge-university-housing-subject-to-fair-housing-act/article_961a765c-e81d-58cf-8bc5-15a14b8752b8.html
More on support animals and the Fair Housing laws at:
A village in Coshocton County decides to redefine Federal and State Fair Housing Law.  What could possibly go wrong? http://www.coshoctontribune.com/story/news/local/2014/09/08/west-lafayette-passes-therapy-pet-legislation/15312127  The axiom that bad facts make bad law still holds.  Don't try to win by changing the rules.

Therapy Duck Case Turns Ugly
At Monday's regular council meeting, Darin Welker compared the village government to the "totalitarian dictatorship of (Adolf) Hitler." He called Mayor Jack Patterson "spineless" and said the position of village administrator should be retitled "village idiot" for the way Dave Kadri serves in the role.

Housing discrimination case in Stark County is settled for $825,000
WKSU reports "The complaint centers on half a dozen apartment buildings owned by John and Mary Ruth through their company Penson Properties.signs for two of the apartment buildings named in the case They were accused in 2011 of discrimination against minorities and families with children. That is something they have categorically denied. But a federal judge ruled earlier this year that there is sufficient evidence for a trial— including the depositions of 10 former Ruth employees, who say they were ordered to engage in Fair Housing violations.Apartment building among those listed in federal complaint. The Ruths have now accepted a “consent decree” without admitting guilt. U.S. Attorney Steven Dettlebach says the $825,000 settlement "will go mostly to the people who were actually victimized by the discrimination." Read more here: http://www.wksu.org/news/story/40245

Property firm accused of bias: Housing agency says Safeguard neglects minority neighborhoods

Toledo’s Fair Housing Center and the National Fair Housing Alliance have filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development against a Cleveland property management company that has operations in the Toledo area. The complaint says that Safeguard Properties, the nation’s largest privately held property preservation firm, failed to maintain foreclosed homes in minority neighborhoods in Toledo and three others cities yet simultaneously maintained foreclosed homes in predominantly white neighborhoods. Under the federal Fair Housing Act, failing to maintain homes based on racial or ethnic composition of a neighborhood is illegal. Safeguard Properties was employed by the Federal National Mortgage Association to maintain its foreclosed or real estate owned homes in Toledo, Dayton, Memphis, and Baton Rouge. http://www.toledoblade.com/Real-Estate/2014/04/11/Property-firm-accused-of-bias.html
Safeguard denies the charges. “Since the complaint was originally filed, we have worked with HUD through the administrative process and have complied with information requests. We have asked [the housing alliance] for details on the actual properties they base their complaints on, and they have not cooperated with us. Safeguard has and will continue to cooperate with HUD’s investigation of this matter,” a statement issued by Safeguard said. Read more at http://www.toledoblade.com/Real-Estate/2014/04/12/Property-firm-denies-discrimination-claims.html#uqtFkT0bADkTs0Pq.99http://www.toledoblade.com/Real-Estate/2014/04/12/Property-firm-denies-discrimination-claims.html
Zanesville's black residents' fight for clean water, bittersweet
For a mostly black neighborhood that had to fight to get city waterlines, a long legal fight, angry town were well worth it
A good story about a good struggle for civil rights.  A little Black.history in our own time.  Thanks (again) to Joyce for sharing.


WASHINGTON– The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced today that it has charged Dardania Properties, LLC, in New York, NY, and its owner Hamid Nezaj with violating the Fair Housing Act by denying the requests of two disabled residents of a Bronx apartment building to keep a medically prescribed service and emotional support animal. HUD’s charge alleges that the owners denied multiple requests by the residents and threatened to evict them if they did not remove the animal.  More here

Disability discrimination in Hartville

Congrats to Fair Housing Advocates for bringing this case to the attention of the Department of Justice.  Here's the story    Here's the DOJ press release

Dallas in hot water for siting decisions that put affordable housing into impacted neighborhoods 
HUD finds city policies perpetuate discrimination
Is inclusion a false hope?
A new study out of Michigan State University concludes: "Is a better world possible? Unfortunately, these findings show it may not be possible to simultaneously create communities that are both fully integrated and fully cohesive," Neal said. "In essence, when it comes to neighborhood desegregation and social cohesion, you can't have your cake and eat it too." more here:

Big Settlements preserve, extend FH protections
  • Another public housing occupancy requirement falls.  Relman and Dane announce a settlement of a case challenging a housing authority's occupancy preference as discriminatory. The idea is that if protected classes are underepresented in a community then an occupancy requirement or preference disadvantages applicants in that under represented protected class.
  • Mt. Holly Case settles.   Parties avoid a Supreme Court decision. The concept of disparate impact isheld harmless.  Thanks to Kelan for sharing  more on the settlement strategy here and here 

Do Credit Checks have a Discriminatory Disparate Impact?

Amy Traub claims that employment credit checks have a discriminatory impact on African American job seekers. What about homeseekers? Maybe a similar argument. I handled a case of denial of an African American applicant because of an unpaid $200 tax lien that was 10 years old. Meanwhile the household has been paying rent every month and showing no sign of misbehavior as a neighbor. This is worth thinking about as a claim where African Americans (maybe other protected classes) are under represented at a particular housing development. Read it here, then think about it.

Men burning crosses 'just having fun,' police say”
according to a story in the Zanesville Times Recorder. Read it here.  Hint to cops and parents: “it's not funny”   You can't make this stuff up....Thanks to Joyce for sharing. 
Sad story of tenant on tenant harassment
from Akron Beacon Journal:  : Police and Management didn't help! Tenant forced into a payday loan in order to move. Read more here

Failing the test can cost a bundle:  Ashtabula County landlords feel entrapped by fair housing procedures
Star Beacon February 17, 2013
By WARREN DILLAWAY - warren@starbeacon.com Star Beacon
Clark and Cynthia Heath say they just wanted to make their apartment as convenient and safe as possible for the handicapped individual interested in renting from them. So, during the interview with a person representing the renter, they asked about the nature of the disability.
A year or so later, the Saybrook Township couple learned they had asked the wrong question. Indeed, they had broken the fair housing law and were in trouble to the tune of $1,500, the penalty demanded by the Fair Housing Resource Center (FHRC) in Painesville.
The Heaths would later learn that the person who inquired about renting to a handicapped individual was actually a tester hired by the FHRC to see if landlords in the region were discriminating against renters with disabilities. More here h/t Jeremy Morris at Western Reserve Independent Living Center.

Will Shale Gas Boom make US Energy Independent.  More here

Long Awaited Regulations on disparate impact published by HUD (see attached at the bottom of this page...)

Code Enforcement gets "TEETH"
Newark is putting landlords on notice: If your property is not up to snuff, we’re going to make you pay.  The Newark City Council authorized the Licking County auditor on Monday to place property-tax liens totaling nearly $42,000 against the owners of 93 properties.  “That’s attention-getting,” said Councilman Bill Cost Jr.  read more here
This news comes on the heels of Columbus putting a scofflaw landlord in jail.  More here.
and creates "wall of shame"  More here.

Celebrating Civil Rights Movement on MLK day

A Virginia Beach property management company
has settled allegations that it discriminated against a Hispanic woman because she didn't speak English fluently.  More here.  thanks to national FH advocate on line for this story.

Cambridge Landlord to Pay $25,000 to Settle Claims of Housing Discrimination and Retaliation Against a Family
The owner of an apartment building in Cambridge has agreed to pay $25,000 to settle allegations that a former trustee and property manager discriminated against a family with a young child to avoid an obligation to remove lead paint hazards and later retaliated against the family for filing a discrimination complaint, Attorney General Martha Coakley announced today.  more here  thanks to national FH advocate on line for this story.
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