CREEC mourns the passing of fair housing legend Tracey McCartney

The fair housing world lost a giant when Tracey McCartney passed yesterday.  To us, Tracey embodied the saying that there is no limit to what you can accomplish if you don’t care who gets the credit.  Tracey worked tirelessly but in many ways behind the scenes — known and beloved by the fair housing community but no fan of self-promotion.  She played a crucial role in connecting lawyers and advocates who work for fair housing around the country, patiently herding us like cats, and ensuring a platform in which we could share knowledge, ideas, mutual support, and gallows humor.  She was terrific at connecting people on an individual level, as well, and was hilarious and self-deprecating in person. Below is the press release issued by the Tennessee Fair Housing Council.  We miss you, Tracey, and will work to honor your memory. Long-time leader of the Tennessee Fair Housing Council, Tracey McCartney left this world following illness. McCartney leaves behind a loving spouse, Nancy Blomgren of Nashville, and family who will scatter her ashes in a creek that runs by a 200-year-old white oak on her parents’ land. Here she will sustain deer and coyote, dogwood and mountain azalea.   The loss of Tracey McCartney represents a significant blow to the National Fair Housing Community. Tracey McCartney joined the Tennessee Fair Housing Council in February 1998. She was an attorney, admitted to the bars of both Alabama and Tennessee. She received a law degree from the University of Alabama in 1995. While in law school, she worked for 2½ years as a clerk/advocate for the Alabama Disabilities Advocacy Program, where she gained valuable fair housing experience...

CREEC & DMFHC Settle Family Status and Disability Housing Discrimination Complaints

Denver, CO — The Denver Metro Fair Housing Center (DMFHC) and the Civil Rights Education and Enforcement Center (CREEC) resolved fair housing complaints against a management company that explicitly discriminated against families with children and people with disabilities. When DeWayne Curtis was looking for an apartment for himself, his wife, and his toddler son, he responded to a Craigslist ad for the Langford Apartments in Littleton. When he reached the apartment manager, however, he was told that the apartment did not accept families with children. Mr. Curtis, knowing this was illegal, reached out to the DMFHC. The DMFHC conducted an undercover investigation of the Langford, in which the management company’s employee was caught on tape telling investigators, “no kids,” and “we don’t accept children.” He also told a Deaf investigator, “we don’t allow service animals,” and “if you’re deaf I don’t think this is the place for you.” These are all open and shut fair housing violations. DMFHC, with the help of lawyers at CREEC, filed complaints with the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) against Katchen & Company and the owners of the Langford for discriminating against families with children and people with disabilities on July 12, 2016. These complaints follow two previous complaints against Katchen, one of which resulted in DMFHC educating Katchen staff on fair housing laws requiring reasonable accommodations for service animals; the second — not long after — requiring a lawsuit to prevent the eviction of two Katchen tenants following their requests to accommodate their service animals. Under the Fair Housing Act, owners, managers, and other housing providers must make reasonable accommodations in their...

CREEC receives DMFHC Fair Housing Leadership Award

We were honored last night to receive a Fair Housing Leadership Award from the Denver Metro Fair Housing Center at their 2016 Fair Housing Gala. DMFHC is Colorado’s only dedicated fair housing organization, and has done amazing things to promote fair housing in the Denver metro area.  We have had the privilege of working with them on a number of cases and investigations.  As we said in accepting the award last night, housing discrimination is still rampant and we, as lawyers, know better than most how hard it is for victims of discrimination to take on federal court litigation.  For this reason, the testing and investigation that DMFHC does it invaluable to ensuring fair housing rights. Also, they’re great people and we love working with them! We had a wonderful group of CREECsters and CREEC friends with us and were privileged to hear about the Obama Administration’s excellent and ongoing civil rights legacy from Gustavo Velasquez, the Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity at the Department of Housing and Urban Development. The Gala was well-attended by luminaries from the Denver housing community, and the food and company were wonderful.  Our only disappointment was that we didn’t win the signed Brandon Marshall photo in the silent auction.  Will definitely have to bid higher next year! Deep appreciation to the DMFHC — we look forward to many more years of...

CREEC files suit to ensure reasonable accommodations for family of Autistic boy

CREEC filed a new case in the District of Colorado that underscores the importance of reasonable accommodations under the Fair Housing Act. When Hannah and Chris Lofland were looking for a home in Larkspur, Colorado, they never imagined that their neighbors would attempt to deny their son the accommodations he needs.  William Lofland is, according to his doctor, “on the severe end of the autism spectrum.”  He and his parents need quick access to a specially-equipped recreational vehicle to help calm him when he melts down.   The RV includes required medical equipment and the ride — over the rolling hills of the Front Range — provides William with the necessary sensory stimulation to calm him.  Having it parked next to their home helps prevent self-injury and avoids trips to the emergency room.  The Loflands also need to construct a six-foot-high fence to ensure that William does not stray from their home. The Loflands’ new home was subject to covenants, enforced by an “Architectural Control Committee,” that prohibited parking RVs on residents’ property and subjected the construction of fences to review by the ACC.   Despite the Loflands’ repeated requests — complete with letters from William’s doctor and photographs of the RV and fence — the ACC refused to approve the requested accommodations. The Fair Housing Act was passed in 1964 to address widespread racial discrimination in housing.  It was amended in 1988 to prohibit discrimination on the basis of disability and, as part of this amendment, to require reasonable accommodations in rules and policies where necessary to permit a person with a disability to use and enjoy his home.  Congress...

Municipal Planning Morass = Disability Discrimination Travesty

A weird, complicated, simple, dramatic, Aspen-based soap opera of a legal case started trial yesterday.  The City of Aspen is suing two wealthy condo-owners and the developer/landlord of the rest of the building for privatizing the only accessible entrance.  It’s a smaller but more disturbing version of the “poor door” controversies in New York and other cities, where affordable housing tenants are forced to use a side entrance to mixed use buildings. Elise Thatcher of Aspen Public Radio interviewed me about it on Monday and posted the Court’s decision granting in part and denying in part the City’s motion for summary judgment. In short, JW Ventures, a developer in Aspen, Colorado, constructed a building in downtown Aspen to include two “market value” apartments, three “affordable housing units,” and two restaurants.  It also had, as required, an accessible entrance from the sidewalk with an elevator serving all apartments and the two restaurants, as well as an alley entrance and service elevator.   Fast forward to today:  the owners of the two market value units — a couple who combined them into a single apartment (the “Fancy Apartment”) — have asserted that the street-side accessible entrance and elevator are theirs alone, and that tenants of the affordable units and patrons of the restaurants must use the alley entrance and service elevator.  The legal case, brought by the City of Aspen to enforce its own ordinance, centers around the city’s conflicting actions with respect to building and condo plans.  I’ll get to the untested ADA and Fair Housing angles in a second. I want to start in the middle and slightly to...
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