Fall 2019 Newsletter

By now you should have received our latest newsletter at your home or business. If you haven’t*, or you’d like to see the digital color version, you can view it online right now. Highlights include information on recently filed cases, disability rights success stories, photos from our 6th Annual Fair Housing Breakfast, and more.

*Didn’t get a printed copy and want one? Have questions or comments? We’d love to hear from you at info@fhcmichigan.org

snapshot of part of the 2019 printed newsletter.
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MSU Tiny Rabbit Case Resolved

Civil Rights Demands Change at MSU Sorority

According to the complaint taken by the FHC in the fall of 2017, although Kayla Hicks’ need for an emotional support animal was well documented, East Lansing sorority Alpha Omicron Pi (AOII) refused to allow her to live with her emotional support animal, a two-pound Netherland Dwarf Rabbit named Sebastian.

The FHC-aided lawsuit was settled in September 2019 for an undisclosed amount. The Michigan Department of Civil Rights (MDCR) was also a part of the case and their charge was also resolved.  

According to the settlement agreement with the MDCR, “fraternity and sorority houses…are not excluded from the [Michigan Persons with Disabilities Civil Rights Act] provisions prohibiting discrimination based on disability or any other protected classifications.” AOII has agreed to create written policies with regard to assistance animals, and accommodate members with disabilities at all AOII sorority houses in Michigan. 

Read the official FHC Press Release

MSU sorority settlement reached,” The State News, 11/20/2019

MSU sorority settles lawsuit over banished therapy rabbit,” Detroit Free Press, 11/20/2019

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New Sexual Harassment Lawsuit Filed, Lansing

New Sexual Harassment Lawsuit Filed
Fair Housing Suit Also Alleges National Origin Bias 

Sarah Yoder contacted the Fair Housing Center in August 2018 to file a sexual harassment complaint against Ryan McDonell. Ms. Yoder, a 39-year-old Native American woman, stated that she had gone to view a one-bedroom house listed for $700/month in Lansing and that Mr. McDonell gave her a tour.

Later that day, she asked Mr. McDonell, via text, if the rent was negotiable. McDonell responded; “I bet your (sic) more fun to negotiate with in person.” Later text messages include asking Ms. Yoder to do a striptease for him. Ms. Yoder’s text response was that she was “not a prostitute or a stripper” and she declined to respond to his subsequent text messages, including him asking “u mad that I asked u to wear something cute so I could check u out?”

The case, filed in Federal Court on September 9, 2019, has been assigned to the honorable Robert J. Jonker.

We will keep you informed as the case progresses.

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Fair Housing Centers of Michigan Call For Statewide Day of Action, October 16th

Fair Housing Center of Southeast & Mid Michigan
PO Box 7825, Ann Arbor, MI  48107 (877) 979-FAIR www.fhcmichigan.org

October 15, 2019

Fair Housing Centers of Michigan Plan Statewide Day of Action to Oppose HUD’s Attempt to Gut Core Civil Rights Protection

The Fair Housing Centers of Metropolitan Detroit, Southeast & Mid Michigan, Southwest Michigan, and West Michigan are calling for a statewide day of action for housing rights. Organizations and individuals should plan to submit comments opposing the changes to the Fair Housing Act at www.DefendCivilRights.org on Wednesday, October 16th. 

Please use the hashtags #DefendCivilRights and #DefendMICivilRights in any social media posts.

The four independent fair housing centers recently published an op-ed in The Detroit Free Press – “Trump administration housing rule change would weaken important tool” – and each center has been holding public comment parties, submitting official agency comments, and conducting education and outreach through social media and email blasts. 

The Fair Housing Centers are encouraging folks to Speak Out! Fair Housing Center of Southeast & Mid Michigan Director Pam Kisch states, “We want to fill up the day with comments. Just five minutes of your time can help stop the rollback of this key civil rights tool. There is so much on the line here and we need your help.” 

Background: The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) proposed a new rule in August with the potential to dismantle important civil rights protections against discrimination in housing.  

Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968, known as the Fair Housing Act, prohibits discrimination in the sale, rental, or financing of housing and in other housing-related activities on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, disability, familial status, or national origin. However, HUD’s new rule proposes to eliminate the use of “disparate impact” in determining housing discrimination and to raise the burden of proof required to prove discrimination. Moreover, the new rule proposes to release lenders and landlords from responsibility for computer-based algorithms that discriminate while automating decisions about credit scoring, home insurance, and mortgage interest rates.

Read case examples on how the disparate impact rule has impacted women, families with children, black and Latinx communities, and people with disabilities. 

Since 1977 the Fair Housing Center of Metropolitan Detroit, a private, non-profit, citizen based organization has worked to help assure equal housing opportunities throughout the metropolitan Detroit area. 

The Fair Housing Center of Southeast & Mid Michigan, founded in 1992, actively protects the civil rights of those who are discriminated against in the rental, sale, or financing of housing through investigation, education, advocacy, and legal action. The FHC has an eight-county service area – Clinton, Eaton, Ingham, Jackson, Lenawee, Livingston, Monroe, and Washtenaw. 

The Fair Housing Center of Southwest Michigan, a private non-profit organization, is committed to eliminating all forms of housing discrimination in Southwest Michigan through fair housing education, enforcement and advocacy. We currently serve 9 counties in Southwest Michigan:  Allegan, Barry, Branch, Berrien, Calhoun, Cass, Kalamazoo, St. Joseph, and Van Buren.  

The Fair Housing Center of West Michigan is a private, non-profit fair housing organization committed to providing comprehensive fair housing services, including education, outreach, research, advocacy and enforcement.  We currently serve 12 counties in western Michigan: Allegan, Grand Traverse, Ionia, Isabella, Kent, Mecosta, Montcalm, Muskegon, Newaygo, Oceana, Osceola and Ottawa.


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FHC HUD Complaint Resolved for $45,000 + Policy Changes

The Fair Housing Center of Southeast & Mid Michigan (FHC) announces the resolution of a complaint based on familial status discrimination, in violation of the Fair Housing Act, filed against Management Resources Development, Inc. (MRD).

MRD is a property management and construction company with its headquarters in East Lansing, Michigan. MRD owns and/or manages over 9,000 properties, including apartments, in 10 states.

The complaint filed with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) alleged that MRD engaged in systemic discrimination against families with children across properties in Michigan and Indiana by enforcing an overly-restrictive occupancy policy of no more than two people per bedroom regardless of a unit’s square footage.

Read the entire FHC Press Release

WHMI 93.5 Local Coverage

Livingston Daily Local Coverage 

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