News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Local & Bistate

March 16, 2014

Homeless, renters, leasers

Housing discrimination hits those with disabilities hardest, at 1/3 of claims

TERRE HAUTE — All kinds of housing issues come to the attention of the Terre Haute Human Relations Committee, including discrimination.

According to THHRC director Jeff Lorick, knowing one’s legal rights is the best thing a person do to protect their housing.

“Tenants often don’t know their rights, and they end up getting evicted or having terms and conditions placed on them because they don’t know their rights,” Lorick said. “And a lot of time, people don’t have a lease. They are living on a month-to-month contingency.”

Lorick said that he constantly talks to people about their rights –  both as renters and as property owners dealing with lending institutions.

Jeff Stewart, director of the Terre Haute Housing Authority, agrees that both tenants and landlords need to be clear about any agreement they sign, and to follow the rules so they do not jeopardize their housing.

The impact of homelessness will be one of the panel discussions included Tuesday in the 13th annual Terre Haute Human Rights Day, hosted in Hulman Memorial Student Union at Indiana State University.

The day’s events are free and open to the public.

The Terre Haute Housing Authority is a large provider of subsidized housing in the city, with more than 1,200 units that are owned or leased out. The THHA also administers the federal Section 8 housing program of Housing and Urban Development, which provides rental assistance vouchers to qualifying renters who seek housing from private landlords.

Even with 1,200 units, the demand for subsidized housing is greater than the supply.

“We have a healthy waiting list,” Stewart said. “We have no trouble keeping our waiting list full. I think we are doing best serving the elderly and disabled. There is a larger need for the two- and three-bedroom units.”

As far as claims of unfair housing, Stewart said he is not aware of claims that have been substantiated in recent years.

“I won’t say it doesn’t happen in our community,” he said.

During a recent civil rights symposium presented by the office of U.S. Attorney Joseph Hogsett, Hoosier advocates and government employees learned about housing discrimination and discussed federal civil rights laws and trends.

Maurine McGough, director of the Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity for Region V of HUD, explained that his office handles the broad categories of enforcement of federal law and compliance with federal housing rules. Sometimes a complaint is investigated and litigated on the federal level. But more often a complaint of discrimination is handled by a state or local housing agency which tries to work out an agreement between the parties.

While there is a limit of 100 days to complete an investigation, that is usually an unreasonable time frame, said Lisa Danna-Brennan, associate regional counsel for litigation. A good case is finished in about six months to a year, but can take up to two years to resolve, she said. Many cases close when a mutual agreement is reached.

In all states, she said, complaints based on disability rank at the top of those filed from 2008 to 2011. The next largest complaint is race, with family status ranking third.

In 2013, Indiana agencies received 202 complaints. Again, the biggest complaint was discrimination by disability – 33 percent – followed by race at 25 percent, but then national origin at 7 percent of complaints filed. The family status issue was ranged at less than one percent of the cases filed.

HUD has pursued many discrimination cases through the years, Danna-Brennan said, including a case in Lake County where county officials interfered with and retaliated against two employees on the county’s development department for their work on an affordable housing project for lower-income people and minorities.

She said the agency has been doing more work in the area of compliance to assure that local government agencies are providing fair housing opportunities

McGough said the agency sometimes struggles to keep up with its workload in enforcement. That is in part because of a reduction in employees – from 750 nationwide in the 1990s to less than 550 employees now.

“Our ability to enforce the law is dependent upon staffing,” he said.

But that should not discourage anyone with a housing concern to file a complaint with either the local agency that assists with housing issues, or with HUD.

Housing discrimination complaints can be reported by calling 1-800-765-9372.

Reporter Lisa Trigg can be reached at 812-231-4254 or Follow her on Twitter @TribStarLisa.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Local & Bistate
Latest News Poll
AP Video
Looming Demand Could Undercut Flight Safety Raw: 2 Shells Hit Fuel Tank at Gaza Power Plant Raw: Massive Explosions From Airstrikes in Gaza Giant Ketchup Bottle Water Tower Up for Sale Rodents Rampant in Gardens Around Louvre US Ready to Slap New Sanctions on Russia Easier Nuclear Construction Promises Fall Short Girl Struck by Plane on Florida Beach Dies Judge OKs Record-setting $2B Sale of Clipper Mother of 2 Makes NFL Cheerleading Squad at 40 Kerry: Humanitarian Cease-fire Efforts Continue Raw: Earthquake Rocks Mexico's Gulf Coast Raw: Massive Dust Storm Covers Phoenix UN Security Council Calls for Gaza Cease-fire House to Vote on Slimmed-down Bill for Border Today in History for July 29th Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating Kerry: Not Worried About Israeli Criticism Raw: Airstrike Shatters Fragile Calm in Gaza Boater Rescued From Edge of Kentucky Dam
NDN Video
Weird 'Wakudoki' Dance Launches Promotional Competition Two women barely avoid being hit by train Chris Pratt Adorably Surprises Kids at a 'Guardians of the Galaxy' Screening Chapter Two: Designing for Naomi Watts NOW TRENDING: Peyton Manning dancing at practice "The Bachelorette" Makes Her Decision Thieves pick the wrong gas station to rob Golden Sisters on '50 Shades' trailer: 'Look At That Chest!' Staten Island Man's Emotional Dunk Over NYPD Car - @TheBuzzeronFOX GMA: Dog passes out from excitment to see owner Baseball Hall of Famers Inducted 'Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1' Sneak Peek Florida Keys Webcam Captures Turtles Hatching Morgan Freeman Sucks Down Helium on 'Tonight Show' Robin Wright Can Dance! (WATCH) She's Back! See Paris Hilton's New Carl's Jr. Ad Big Weekend For Atlanta Braves In Cooperstown - @TheBuzzeronFox Chapter Two: Becoming a first-time director What's Got Jack Black Freaking Out at Comic-Con? Doctors Remove 232 Teeth From Teen's Mouth

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
  • -


    March 12, 2010