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Boston Teens Guilty of Race Attacks

By Leslie Miller
Associated Press Writer
Friday, Oct. 22, 1999; 1:15 a.m. EDT

BOSTON Two white teen-agers whose families were evicted from a housing project after the men were arrested for race-related attacks have pleaded guilty to terrorizing their Hispanic neighbors.

Michael Day, 19, was sentenced to 2 years in jail after pleading guilty Thursday to assault and battery, civil rights violations and destruction of property in two 1997 attacks. His plea came a few hours before he was scheduled to go to trial.

Sean Beatty, 19, pleaded guilty to assault and battery and destruction of property and was sentenced to one year in jail.

According to prosecutors, Day, Beatty and several other teen-agers in 1997 chased a Hispanic man to his apartment with sticks and bats and threw rocks and bricks at him.

Less than two weeks later, the group chased a Hispanic woman to her apartment late at night and Day threw her to the ground, prosecutors said.

Prosecutors said the teen-agers continued throwing bottles and bricks at the building where the woman lived, and Day was charged with throwing a bottle through a bedroom window where another Hispanic woman was sleeping with her infant daughter.

The other teen-agers previously pleaded guilty.

The Boston Housing Authority evicted Day's and Beatty's families from the South Boston housing project using a new federal policy that allows evictions of public housing tenants who are violent, sell drugs or commit civil rights violations.

The policy was created in 1996 to make government housing for the poor a safer place to live.

© Copyright 1999 The Associated Press

Happy Holidays from the Board of Directors, Staff, and Volunteers at Montana Fair Housing!

The following are excerpts from the National Fair Housing Advocate/October 1999 issue

On the Insurance End . . .

(NASHVILLE) The Tennessee Fair Housing Council ("TFHC") and Metropolitan Property and Casualty have reached a settlement in a complaint of race discrimination in the provision of homeowners insurance in Nashville. The TFHC filed the complaint with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development in late 1995.

Under the settlement, Metropolitan has already adjusted its homeowners insurance premium rates in the central part of Nashville to bring them more into line with the surrounding areas. The insurer also will pay the TFHC $75,000 as compensation for its attorney's fees and expenses in connection with the case and will offer a 10% discount to prospective customers who complete a home maintenance training program, which the TFHC hopes to establish in cooperation with a local housing counseling agency.

TFHC filed the complaint with HUD after HUD-funded testing of two of the company's agents showed that homeowner's insurance rates were up to 48% higher for zip codes within the central part of Nashville than they were for surrounding areas. The TFHC alleged that Metropolitan's rate structure constituted illegal race discrimination because it had a disproportionate impact on the affected zip codes, which contained 82% of Davidson County's African American families. Every majority black zip code in Davidson County is in this disadvantaged rating territory.

At the time of TFHC's testing of the company, the agent with whom TFHC's African American tester dealt told the tester that Metropolitan would not be competitive in his north Nashville zip code, 37218. He was also quoted a premium of $800 per year, while the white tester was quoted an annual premium of $490 a year for a similar house in Bellevue.

As part of the settlement, Metropolitan will also:

  • implement a "repair letter" program in which applicants and current policy holders are provided with detailed information concerning repairs they need to make before denying or canceling coverage; continue to increase its advertising and outreach to a broad demographic spectrum in Nashville; and
  • talk to TFHC before changing premium rates in the Nashville metropolitan area.

The parties reached the settlement in order to avoid the time, expense and uncertainty of continued litigation. HUD did not complete its investigation of the case or make any finding for or against Metropolitan's liability in the case, and the company and its agents admitted no wrongdoing.

 

ELGIN, ILLINOIS REVAMPS ENFORCEMENT OF OCCUPANCY CODE

WASHINGTON - Elgin, Illinois will change the way it inspects homes for occupancy code violations and will pay seven Hispanic families a total of $10,000 to settle housing discrimination complaints, Housing and Urban Development Secretary Andrew Cuomo announced today.

The complaints - filed with HUD by the families between October 1998 and May 1999 - allege that the City of Elgin targeted Hispanic families for selective enforcement of occupancy standards that limit the number of people who can live in a home.

The City of Elgin agreed to conciliate the case before more investigation was required, and admits no wrongdoing in the settlement.

The families told HUD that inspectors showed up unannounced at night and early in the morning - including 5 a.m. on one occasion - to see how many people were inside a home. The families also complained to HUD that City code inspectors entered homes without obtaining permission from occupants who did not speak fluent English.

"All families in this country, no matter what their ethnicity or race, should be safe in their homes and not be subjected to unreasonable home inspections," Cuomo said. "I'm encouraged that the City of Elgin accepts this and will change its inspection procedures."

According to Elgin's records, from 1995 to 1998 City officials issued 268 citations for occupancy code violations. Of those, 179 - 64 percent - went to families with Hispanic surnames. However, Hispanics make up only about 8 percent of homeowners and occupy only about 20 percent of the rental units in Elgin. More than 80 percent of the citations were issued on the East Side of Elgin, an area with many Hispanic and African American residents.

Cuomo discussed the settlement today in an appearance before the National Council of La Raza Board of Directors meeting in Washington. Deputy Secretary Saul Ramirez was discussing the settlement in remarks to the 17th annual United States Hispanic Leadership Conference in Chicago.

Of the seven families who filed complaints with HUD, six owned homes, and one was a renter. The families protested the methods the inspectors used to check for overcrowding.

In one instance, Manuel and Maria Soto told HUD that an inspector arrived while Maria's mother was visiting from Mexico. The couple said the inspector gave them a verbal warning to reduce the number of people in the home or face condemnation of the property and eviction - even though they told him the mother was just a temporary guest.

"When we filed the complaint we weren't expecting any money - all we wanted was for them (City inspectors) to leave us alone," Maria Soto said. "We had never had a problem before this and we didn't know what was going to happen. We were afraid and thought we might have to sell our home and move."

Under the settlement of the complaint filed with HUD, the City of Elgin agreed to:

  • Pay a total of $10,000 to compensate the seven families.
  • Only conduct interior inspections from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Saturday, unless a warrant has been issued or the resident or owner asks for a different time.
  • Develop written permission slips that explain a resident's rights, in both English and Spanish, to authorize interior inspections
  • Not make any interior inspections in response to an anonymous complaint unless there is specific evidence of a possible violation.
  • Provide written notice, with Spanish translation offered, of alleged violations including information about how to appeal the allegations.
  • Train city employees involved with this issue on the requirements of the Fair Housing Act.
  • Document in writing all interior residential inspections, code inspection reports, and complaints related to the City's inspections.

The Fair Housing Act bars housing discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, disability, family status and national origin. The Act covers the sale, rental, financing and advertising of almost all housing in the nation. Fair housing investigations are conducted by HUD investigators, state and city agencies working with HUD, and private fair housing groups that receive HUD funds.

As part of his One America Initiative, President Clinton directed Cuomo to double the number of enforcement actions brought against perpetrators of housing discrimination by the year 2001. HUD has already increased its enforcement actions to a rate of 102 per month, compared with less than 30 per month during the Clinton Administration's first term.

 

Bridgeport Fair Housing Claims Section 8

Victory Most Significant

In response to a State Supreme Court decision handed down earlier this week on the side of Section 8 recipients reaffirming their protection under the state's housing discrimination statutes, Bridgeport's Fair Housing Director indicated it was not only a solid victory for Connecticut's lower-income families but also a solid victory for the state as well. Joe Wincze, who besides being the city's Fair Housing Officer is also President of the Fair Housing Association of Connecticut, stated, "This most important decision now shows that "Fair Housing" is alive and well in Connecticut!"

The State Supreme Court with its decision on Monday in effect reversed a decision made at the trial court level by Judge Cocco in the Bridgeport Housing court in June, 1998. At that time Judge Cocco ruled that a Fairfield landlord was within his rights to reject two prospective tenants from Bridgeport who were on the Section 8 program because the landlord did not agree with the requirements of the federal subsidy program and, therefore, refused to rent them an apartment. he also claimed their income was insufficient despite their Section 8 subsidies.

"I am simply elated by the State Supreme Court's decision", states Wincze, "because I believe it sends a strong message throughout the state and even outside the state that Connecticut is indeed concerned about protection against discrimination for all its residents regardless of their source of income."

The two tenants who were rejected by the Fairfield landlord had originally contacted the Bridgeport Fair Housing Office to complaint about their treatment in the spring of 1994. At that time, Wincze assisted them in gathering evidence and in filing their complaints of alleged housing discrimination with the Connecticut Commission On Human Rights and Opportunities. Connecticut Legal Services agreed to represent the tenants with regards to their complaints. Following a Cause Finding by the Connecticut Commission On Human Rights and Opportunities in August of 1994, the case ended up in Superior Court- Bridgeport Housing Session at the request of the landlord.

With the decision of the State Supreme Court, the court concluded that landlords were required to make rental housing available to potential tenants who rely on Section 8 housing assistance and, therefore, must also abide by the requirements of the Section 8 program. This overturned the decision made by Judge Cocco at the Superior Court level when he ruled that he did not believe the Connecticut legislature so intended. By their decision, the State Supreme Court is now sending the case back to Superior Court with the instruction that the tenants eligibility for having sufficient income must include consideration of their Section 8 subsidies.

Wincze said he was not concerned about the case being sent back to Superior Court. "With the new guidelines set forth by the Supreme Court mandating that the tenant's income to determine whether or not they can afford the unit takes into consideration what portion of the rent they will have to pay after Section 8 pays the difference should be a relatively easy decision to make. In one case the tenant would pay $64 and in the other case it would only be $11. Yes, I believe the court will now be able to decide that the tenants' income to afford these rents costs is more than sufficient.

HUD disclaimer notice: The work that provided the basis for this publication was supported by funding under a grant awarded by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development. The substance and findings of the work are dedicated to the public. The authors and publisher are solely responsible for the accuracy of the statements and interpretations contained in this publication.

 

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