Fair Housing | St. Louis Public Radio

Fair Housing

Katie Bartels and her emotional support cat Hank, who was certified as an ESA by a therapist, not an online service. 01-20-20
Jonathan Ahl | St. Louis Public Radio

If you have a little bit of money and can answer a 10-question online survey, you can get an official-looking certificate stating that you need an emotional support animal. 

You don’t have to talk to anyone or go through an assessment.

Because it’s so easy to obtain the documentation and the laws on accommodations for emotional support animals are murky, some people are using the certification to get out of paying pet deposits and monthly fees to keep an animal in an apartment.

EHOC's Will Jordan (at left) and Wash U's Hank Webber (center) and Molly Metzger joined Tuesday's talk show.
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

On Tuesday’s St. Louis on the Air, executive producer Alex Heuer led a discussion about local efforts to address segregation in neighborhoods near and far.

Joining the discussion were Washington University’s Molly Metzger and Hank Webber, who are co-editors of the new book “Facing Segregation: Housing Policy Solutions for a Stronger Society.” Will Jordan, the executive director of the Metropolitan St. Louis Equal Housing and Opportunity Council, or EHOC, also participated in the conversation.

Shelley House Rededicated By Realtors, Community Groups, Leaders

Feb 11, 2019
Eric Friedman of St. Louis REALTORS; Erich Morris, who grew up in the home; Michael Burns, president of Northside Community Housing Inc.; Alderman Sam Moore; Morris' sister Mary Easterwood; and U.S. Rep. Wm. Lacy Clay participated in the rededication.
Steven Engelhardt | St. Louis American

When Mary Easterwood’s family moved into their home at 4600 Labadie St. about 60 years ago, the neighbors had tried to explain the history behind the house.

“But they couldn’t quite get the story together,” Easterwood said. “As we got older and we started to study, then we found out about the Shelley v Kraemer case,” decided in 1948.

Easterwood’s father, Lenton Morris, had bought the home from another African-American man, J.D. Shelley. When Shelley purchased the home, the title included a racially restrictive covenant – which was an agreement that prohibited the building’s owner from selling the home to anyone other than a Caucasian.

Beverly Nance and Mary Walsh pose for a portrait at their home in Shrewsbury on August 28, 2018.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

A district judge dismissed a lawsuit against a Sunset Hills retirement community today.

Mary Walsh and Beverly Nance took Friendship Village to federal court for sex discrimination in July, after the senior-living facility denied the same-sex couple’s housing application. Friendship Village cited its ‘Cohabitation Policy’ as the reason for the rejection. The policy defines marriage as between one man and one woman, as “marriage is understood in the Bible.”

Lawyers for Friendship Village retirement facility say the community’s decision to turn away the couple was due to the “faith-based nature of the organization.”
Friendship Village

Lawyers for Friendship Village have asked a federal court to dismiss a same-sex couple's discrimination lawsuit against the St. Louis County retirement community.

In a response filed Friday, lawyers for Friendship Village deny the facility discriminated against Mary Walsh and Beverly Nance on the basis of sex. The lawyers argue that the retirement community denied the couple housing based on the organization's religious convictions.

In denying their housing application in July 2016, the senior living community in Sunset Hills mailed the couple a copy of its “cohabitation policy,” which defines marriage as between a man and a woman as it is “understood in the Bible.”

Beverly Nance and Mary Walsh pose for a portrait at their home in Shrewsbury on Aug. 28, 2018.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

After Mary Walsh and Beverly Nance were married in 2009, they thought their right to live together as a couple was secure.

Now the two women are at the center of a landmark legal case against a St. Louis County retirement community. The same-sex couple was denied housing at Friendship Village in 2016 on the basis of a “Cohabitation Policy” that defines marriage as the union of one man and one woman, “as marriage is understood in the Bible.”

The task force will explore what kinds of affordable housing county residents need and how to finance the trust fund.
Creative Commons

Updated June 20 at 4:30 p.m. with additional comments from County Executive Steve Stenger and a local housing expert. - A key recommendation from the St. Louis Fair Housing Conference in April is prompting action in St. Louis County.

The county has assembled a task force to develop recommendations for promoting housing "equity, fairness and inclusion in our region," St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger announced at a news conference Wednesday morning. 

Kate Reese (left) and David Young (right) discussed housing needs in the region and the role the St. Louis Housing Partnership plays in meeting them. Bruce Dorpalen joined the conversation by phone to provide statistics on national housing efforts.
Lara Hamdan | St. Louis Public Radio

Buying and owning a home can be daunting even for those with plenty of resources. But for low-income people, the challenges may seem insurmountable. The nonprofit St. Louis Housing Partnership provides a number of services that help those with low to moderate income obtain and keep their homes or obtain appropriate rental housing.

On Tuesday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Don Marsh talked with Kate Reese, executive director of St. Louis Housing Partnership, David Young, Director of Capacity Building of Housing Action of Illinois, and Bruce Dorpalen, executive director of National Housing Resource Center. They discussed housing needs in the region and the role the St. Louis Housing Partnership plays in meeting them.

One of the topics of the 2018 Fair Housing Conference was on finding was to reduce the number of evictions in St. Louis.
David Kovaluk | St. Louis Public Radio

At the 2018 Fair Housing conference in St. Louis, panelists on Wednesday discussed ways to reduce the number of evictions in St. Louis, using community-centered initiatives.

The issue is examined in the report, "Segregation in St. Louis: Dismantling the Divide," completed by For the Sake of All and the Equal Housing and Opportunity Council. The report focuses on ways to eliminate housing discrimination with St. Louis and St. Louis County.

The conference at UMSL commemorated the 50th anniversary of the Fair Housing Act.

Lotus Avenue in the Kingsway West neighborhood of St. Louis was mostly white until the "white flight" era of the 1960s and 1970s.
Holly Edgell | St. Louis Public Radio

Former Housing and Urban Development Secretary George Romney once said a “white noose” encircled American cities, effectively trapping black families in neglected neighborhoods, while white families moved to thriving suburbs.

The phrase may be 50 years old, but it still fits. Housing discrimination and segregation persist in the metro St. Louis area, long after the Fair Housing Act of 1968, which signed into law a week after the assassination of Martin Luther King. 

Angela Lewis, left, listens while realtor Gail Brown explains how she arrived at a list price for the Lewis property in north St. Louis, in April 2018.
Holly Edgell / St. Louis Public Radio

Advocates concerned about persistent housing segregation in the region might question why promotional materials for the 2018 Fair Housing Conference use the word "celebrate" in reference to the Fair Housing Act.

"The reality is the racial segregation that we see everywhere in this country is the product of very explicit design by the federal state and local governments, intended to segregate the nation by race," said Richard Rothstein, ahead of Wednesday's meeting.

Rothstein, the keynote speaker, is the author of "The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America."

Jason Purnell (left) and Will Jordan (right) discuss current housing inequities in the St. Louis region.
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Fair Housing Act. But how far has equitable housing come in St. Louis? The Delmar Divide is among the most noticeable forms of housing segregation in the area.

On Tuesday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Don Marsh talked about a new report on segregation in housing in the St. Louis region. On April 25, the Metropolitan St. Louis Equal Housing Opportunity Council and the For the Sake of All partnership will address the issue at the Fair Housing Conference held at the University of Missouri-St. Louis (UMSL).

A portrait of Will Jordan, the executive director of the Metropolitan St. Louis Equal Housing Opportunity Council. February 2016.
File Photo | Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri’s ability to investigate housing discrimination and enforce fair housing laws in rural areas could be at risk.

Photographs taken during an investigation of fair housing compliance by the Metropolitan St. Louis Equal Housing and Opportunity Council.
Metropolitan St. Louis Equal Housing and Opportunity Council

A fair housing advocacy organization has filed federal complaints against five new apartment complexes in the St. Louis area.

The Metropolitan St. Louis Equal Housing and Opportunity Council claims the buildings do not meet accessibility standards for people with disabilities, further restricting an already limited supply of accessible housing in the region.

Harvard professor Daniel D'Oca's students used an innovative approach to understand fair housing in Ferguson and the St. Louis metropolitan area.  (Jan. 18, 2017)
Daniel D'Oca

Daniel D’Oca, a professor in the Harvard University Graduate School of Design, recently turned his Fall 2016 Urban Planning and Design Studio into a case study in making accessible solutions for fair housing and urban segregation — in St. Louis.

He and a group of students studied the history of housing policy in the metropolitan area and how segregation contributed to the protests in Ferguson.

University City lions at city hall (2010)
File photo | Rachel Heidenry | St. Louis Beacon

Fair housing advocates in University City are planning to bring back a bill the City Council killed this week. The proposal would have protected people who use Section 8 vouchers from discrimination.

Had it passed, the bill would have made the municipality the second in the St. Louis region to ban housing discrimination based on a renter’s source of income.

“We’re disappointed,” said Glenn Burleigh, a community engagement specialist at the Metropolitan St. Louis Equal Housing and Opportunity Council who helped create the bill. "University City has always touted itself as being extremely progressive and pushing forward toward integration, [but] has not taken the charge from the Ferguson Commission and helped moved us forward here.”

Chris Krehmeyer
Provided by Beyond Housing

If you ask many St. Louisans what they like about the region, many will cite that its cost of living is a big plus. Housing in St. Louis is generally believed to be affordable — but not for all.

A slide from a presentation during an April 2015  fair housing conference shows how Section 8 vouchers are concentrated in north St. Louis and north St. Louis County, and that most voucher holders are black.
courtesy Poverty & Race Research Action Council

Almost 45 percent of St. Louis-area children living in Section 8 housing go to schools ranked in the bottom 10th percentile of the state. That’s almost 20 percent worse than the national average, according to a report compiled by the Poverty & Race Research Action Council.

“The way we’ve organized our schools is keeping low-income kids and kids of color separate from white kids in the region. And they’re being separated in a way that exposes them to lower-performing, lower-resource schools. And that’s just not fair,” said Phil Tegeler, executive director of the council.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, June 2, 2011 - There is nothing catchy about the acronym SLEHCRA -- St. Louis Equal Housing and Community Reinvestment Alliance -- but the nonprofit coalition is making a name for itself with its efforts to promote bank investment in local minority and poor communities.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Oct. 8, 2009 - A coalition of St. Louis fair housing advocates says it will serve as a watchdog to ensure that local financial institutions comply with fair lending laws and do their part in investing in low-income and minority communities.

Earlier this week, the group -- called the St. Louis Equal Housing and Community Reinvestment Alliance -- highlighted what it sees as an example of what still needs to be combatted. The Alliance announced that it had filed a public comment letter with the St. Louis Federal Reserve alleging that Clayton-based Midwest BankCentre doesn't provide equal access in African-American communities.