New Cultural and Equity Center aims to increase inclusivity on campus Monday, Nov 1 2021 

By Tate Luckey —

On October 22nd, the University of Louisville reopened its new Cultural and Equity Center inside the new Belknap Residence Hall. The upgraded facility features the Cultural Center, LGBT Center, Women’s Center, and various study/multipurpose rooms for students of all backgrounds.

This reopening comes after the University was recognized for the 8th year as a Higher Education Excellence in Diversity award recipient, joining other universities like Clemson and Florida State. “Now that we have a whole building, and there are banners and flags all over it, we’ll get a lot more attention. I think it does help U of L become a more diverse campus,” junior Agustina Cisterna said.

Ashton Beckham, Porter scholar and finance major, felt similarly but thinks that the university can do a bit more. “I do think U of L is diverse, but I wish [the university] put more effort into enrolling black students in honors-level courses,” he said. “[The new space] is definitely better than the space in Strickler.”

The new center provides a more centralized location for the various diversity departments around campus. “It’s a really modern space that offers many helpful resources. Students of color now have easier access to the Parrish LLC, which is very convenient,” Beckham said.

In an interview with U of L News, President Neeli Bendapudi said that the center represents one of many major efforts the university has made in striving to become anti-racist and more inclusive to the entire Cardinal community.

If you’d like to learn more about the space and programs it offers, you can do so here. 

File Photos // Facebook, The Louisville Cardinal 

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University of Louisville should offer students free tuition in vaccination prize drawing Monday, Aug 30 2021 

By Catherine Brown–

University of Louisville’s Division of Student Affairs recently announced that vaccinated students have the opportunity to win prizes by enrolling in a contest.

The contest, which will take place in a series of rounds over the fall semester, gives students the chance to win a number of prizes for being vaccinated. Prizes range from a U of L T-shirt or a throw blanket to more expensive items such as daily free Starbucks for 1 year and 4 Blue parking passes for the rest of the fall semester.

But how can we really get students involved? Free tuition for students.

After all, U of L made more than enough money after furloughing staff and raising fees last year that they can afford to put forth free tuition for several students.

According to U of L’s annual budget report for the 2020-21 academic year, U of L operated with a revenue of ~$1.2 billion. In the 2022 fiscal year, U of L plans to operate with a budget of ~$1.3 billion.

Part of this revenue came from raising student tuition, which the university increased by 2% in the 2020-21 academic year at the undergraduate level (with further tuition increases for graduate and professional programs). U of L also raised housing rates by ~2-5% in most complexes, with the most significant change being a 20% increase in Billy Minardi Hall’s 1 bed, 1 bath unit.

In the 2021-22 academic year, housing rates will remain the same as they were the previous year, save for the new housing complex –Belknap Residence Hall– replacing Threlkeld Hall. But with an influx of students on campus this semester, housing can more than make up any revenue lost due to the pandemic in the 2020-21 academic year.

 At approximately $22 million, Student Affairs operates on a budget that is nowhere near the size of the university as a whole.

This is why the university can certainly afford to open up its pockets to allow students the opportunity to win free tuition for a semester should students choose to get vaccinated.

After all, the university has not yet decided to mandate COVID-19 vaccinations for students, faculty, or staff. As of an email sent out on August 20, 54% of U of L students are fully vaccinated.

Student Body President Ugonna Okorie said that the SGA is helping Student Affairs come up with ideas for prizes.

“I’m excited to see what prizes will be offered in the future and I think any prizes that [relieves] students from financial pressure would be extremely beneficial, especially with the ongoing pandemic,” said Okorie.

Let’s hope one such prize includes free tuition for students.

 

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Kentucky Has Millions To Stop Evictions. Some Landlords Won’t Take It Friday, Mar 19 2021 

William DeShazer / Louisville Magazine

Ride along with sheriff’s deputies on evictions.

Jhala Fisher needed cash. Demand for home health aides crashed during the pandemic, and by May she had been laid off. 

Fisher, a 26-year-old in Louisville, says she couldn’t attend job interviews. She didn’t have enough money for gas. She started selling her blood plasma just to keep the lights on.

By November, Fisher owed $2,994 in rent, and her landlord refused to accept partial payments. “I couldn’t help but to think how the heck I was going to be able to pay all of that upfront, in a lump sum,” she said. 

Her landlord went to court to evict her.

There’s supposed to be a safety net to catch distressed tenants like Fisher. Nearly $300 million in federal money is available for Kentuckians who are behind on their rent or utilities due to the pandemic. Earlier this month, Gov. Andy Beshear pleaded with Kentuckians to apply. “That is money that is waiting there to help people get through this pandemic and not come out of it with a lot of debt,” he said.

But the program has a gap: It requires both tenants and their landlords to apply for funds. 

Although Fisher applied for funding, her landlord, Southwood Apartments, declined to do so and proceeded with the eviction. Feeling she was bound for defeat, Fisher abandoned the apartment to preempt a judgment against her in eviction court.

“I wanted to stay, but I didn’t know how it would work out,” she said. “I didn’t want the eviction on my record.”

Uncooperative landlords have blocked hundreds of tenants in Kentucky from accessing money intended to keep a roof over their heads. Federal regulations allow renters to receive the funding directly, if landlords won’t cooperate. But local administrators for the state’s three public funds have opted not to distribute the money directly to Kentucky tenants.

Last year Louisville received 1,916 applications for a diversion program that offered emergency aid to renters facing eviction. But 353 applications — nearly a fifth — were denied because the landlord refused to cooperate, according to data from the city’s Office of Housing.

“Sometimes the landlord didn’t respond to our multiple emails or calls or just flat out said they didn’t want to participate,” said Marilyn Harris, director of Louisville’s Office of Housing. 

Administrators of the funds in Kentucky say direct funding is an imperfect solution. Louisville doesn’t pay tenants directly because renters sometimes don’t have bank accounts, because renters might spend money on priorities other than housing, and because accepting direct funding would force renters to forfeit certain protections, Harris said.

Charlie Lanter, director of grants and special projects for the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government, also said direct funding is too cumbersome. “It is avoided to every extent possible,” he said.

A spokesperson for the state fund — which covers households outside of Louisville and Lexington — acknowledged that tenants can receive the funding directly but did not answer when asked if any tenants are receiving funds without their landlords.

The uncooperative landlord is a policy blind spot that exposes the most vulnerable tenants to eviction. Despite protections intended to protect dislocation, thousands of Kentuckians are continuing to get evicted amid the public health emergency. It’s a problem playing out inside Kentucky’s courtrooms and off the record books.

“This is a problem with federal, state, and local leadership,” said Clare Rutz Wallace, executive director of the South Louisville Community Ministries. “The logistics of getting actual resources from A to B, into people’s pockets and stomachs, can be really hard. 

“It’s just bad policy.”

Eviction Prevention ‘Actually Landlord Assistance’ 

Last month, Beshear hailed the eviction relief funds as “an opportunity no one should turn down.” Still, he acknowledged the state will “need to get a way to address” the issue of uncooperative landlords, though he didn’t mention giving funds directly to tenants. 

“We want to make sure that our folks come out of this with less debt, with a brighter future — that our landlords and businesses are compensated,” Beshear said last week.

Websites for Kentucky’s eviction relief funds don’t mention direct funding as an option. The decision by administrators not to dole out funds directly means many Kentucky renters won’t receive eviction relief money only because their landlords won’t apply. 

Some landlords are wary of government involvement in their business and are unwilling to wait for the funding to arrive. Other landlords resent the tenant, or the application’s stipulation that they can’t evict a renter for any reason until more than two months after assistance ends.

Tenants’ advocates stress that the majority of landlords in Kentucky are cooperating with renter protections. Their consternation centers on a handful of landlords who, to their mind, are refusing “free money” in an effort to fend off state scrutiny of their business practices and portfolios.

“This rental assistance is actually landlord assistance,” explained Ginny Ramsey, director of the Catholic Action Center, a Lexington shelter. “They’re the ones who get the money, nobody else.”

Uncooperative landlords are passing up a sizable chunk of money, particularly when tenants haven’t paid since widespread unemployment and eviction protections first hit last March, said Art Crosby, executive director of the Lexington Fair Housing Council. 

Crosby has seen landlords net $15,000 for a single tenant. But many landlords, he said, either don’t know about the programs or get too “antsy” to wait for the funding. 

“The landlords don’t believe the money will come,” he said. “How do we convince landlords this money is actually coming?”

Rigorous Process Leaves Some Tenants Behind

After the pandemic hit Kentucky in March of last year, local governments and federal policymakers scrambled to pass housing protections. The intent was both epidemiological and economic: keep tenants safe in their homes, and offer fiscal relief to landlords and the millions of renters struggling to stay housed amid one of the most rapid and severe economic downturns in modern American history.

“It is a uniquely awful, horrific time to be experiencing housing insecurity,” said Adrienne Bush, head of the Homeless & Housing Coalition of Kentucky. “What happens to folks after they get kicked out of home? They end up doubling up with another family, exposing everyone to COVID, or moving into a congregate living facility like a shelter.”

The Centers for Disease Control issued a moratorium in September barring all residential evictions in the U.S. due to non-payment of rent, and Gov. Andy Beshear signed an executive order affirming the moratorium in Kentucky. In January, President Biden extended the protections another two months. To qualify for the moratorium, though, renters must present their landlord with a signed declaration that they are unable to pay rent and face risk of homelessness if evicted.

The federal CARES Act, passed by Congress in March 2020, provided millions of dollars to aid low-to-moderate income households that hadn’t paid rent as a result of the pandemic. Another round of federal funding this year has renewed the chance for renter relief. Applications are currently being accepted by the state’s three separate funds: Louisville ($23 million), Lexington ($10 million), and the rest of the state ($264 million). 

To qualify, tenants must face the risk of eviction, demonstrate financial hardship as a result of the pandemic, and earn 80% or below the area’s median income. (In Louisville, that’s $61,100 per year for a family of four.) 

Advocates have praised the funding as a lifeline for households on the brink of eviction. The payments are generous: up to 100% of past rent owed since April 1, 2020, and up to three months of future rent. So far, nearly $21 million in total has been distributed to assist more than 17,000 residents in Louisville alone, according to public data

Kentucky began accepting applications for the latest round of rent relief in February, and the first payments were sent out in early March, Beshear said.

The programs already require tenants to submit a pending court eviction or a past due notice from a landlord, as well as a photo ID, recent income status, and verification of lost income due to COVID-19. Landlords must forgive late fees, penalties, interest and court fees as well as agree to give 30 days notice for a future eviction, which cannot begin until at least 45 days after the aid ends.

Some landlords are refusing to participate because they do not want to give the city a W-9,” said Harris of Louisville’s program. When a renter chooses to self-evict after their landlord refuses funding, public administrators refer that renter to nonprofits to cover expenses such as a security deposit and first month’s rent at a new place.

To distribute the money directly to tenants, federal regulations ask for more fraud reduction measures. Administrators have to document that a landlord is unresponsive or unwilling to accept the funds, and the tenant would have to produce a receipt showing the public funds were used to pay their rent.

Harris said direct funding poses problems. Tenants often lack a checking or bank account and, even if they have one, their funds might be garnished and not reach the landlord, she said. 

“Tenants will make the best choices for them, and that may not be housing, if they are lacking other basics like food,” Harris said. “That is not a bad thing, but the funds are to be used for housing.”

If Louisville were to pay tenants directly, she added, renters wouldn’t gain the 75-day eviction protection.

It’s unknown exactly how many tenants in Kentucky have applied for funding without landlord approval, or how many have been evicted as a result of the loophole, since the Lexington and state funds either don’t distinguish between a landlord and tenant app or aren’t tracking incomplete applications.

Moratoriums Aren’t Stopping Evictions

Efforts to pause evictions have been undermined by loopholes, ambiguities in the legal process, uncooperative landlords, and judges unwilling to extend evictions safeguards to tenants. Some tenants are getting evicted because they don’t know the law and can’t afford a lawyer. Others are getting evicted because landlords or judges are choosing not to apply the law.

Landlords who don’t apply for funds represent just one blind spot in policies intended to protect tenants.

“Landlords have found all sorts of ways around the eviction moratorium,” said Stewart Pope, advocacy director at the Legal Aid Society of Louisville. 

The consequences of policy loopholes don’t affect all tenants equally. 

“Evictions are always going to hit the lower-income neighborhoods first. They’re going to disproportionately hit people of color,” said Pope.

Thousands of Kentuckians continue to face eviction in court and removals from their home. The Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office logged 922 forcible detainer complaints, or notices of an intent to evict, in February. Most won’t reach the final stage of a formal set-out because tenants like Fisher “self-evict” after receiving an initial legal notice. The sheriff’s office conducted 78 set-outs in February, according to data from the JCSO. 

Eviction problems persist even when a tenant’s only infraction is nonpayment.

After the coronavirus reached central Kentucky, Brian Willman got laid off from his manufacturing plant in Lebanon. He applied for unemployment benefits but still struggled to pay rent while providing for his wife and four kids. 

Willman’s luck soured further in mid-November, just weeks after finding new work, when he caught a debilitating case of the coronavirus. By December, he’d returned to work. But he was still short $2,500 on rent. Willman wasn’t surprised when the Nelson County sheriff’s office served him with an eviction notice from his landlord. 

“I knew eviction was coming,” said Willman, who was living in Bardstown. “But I thought I was protected by the moratorium.”

The forcible detainer complaint filed against Willman states he breached the lease only for “non payment of rent,” according to court documents. But he never submitted a CDC declaration — he didn’t know it existed. “The first time I heard about it was at my court hearing,” he said. 

Ramon Pineiroa, sheriff of Nelson County, where Willman lived, said he sympathized with tenants and their landlords. “Put yourself in the landlord’s shoes. He still has to pay that mortgage,” Pineiroa said.

As part of the CARES Act passed by Congress in March 2020, homeowners with federally backed loans were granted forbearance on mortgages. The protection didn’t apply to mortgages controlled by private lenders.

When asked why his deputies don’t provide tenants with a blank copy of the CDC declaration when posting a court notice on their home, Pineiroa said, it’s “between the landlord and their renter.”

“It’s not a judgment call on our part,” he added. “When we get the paperwork, we gotta do our job.”

Without the declaration, and without a lawyer, Willman lost his eviction case. Days later, his wife gave birth to his fifth child. Just days after that, he and his family were evicted. 

Some of the tenants might find relief in the courts when they’re denied access to eviction prevention funds. But lawyers are a major expense that compounds the inequities faced by tenants who can’t afford rent and aren’t entitled to a public defender in a civil case. 

Some advocates want the evictions moratoria strengthened so as to banish all evictions, for any reason, during the duration of the coronavirus crisis. Comparing the challenges faced by landlords with those faced by tenants amounts to a “false equivalence,” said Christina Libby, an advocate at the Homeless & Housing Coalition of Kentucky who attended eviction court throughout the fall to help renters connect with resources to prevent their eviction.

“An evicted tenant faces homelessness. [Landlords] are not going to be at the risk of death, or the virus, or hunger, from not getting their mortgage paid,” she said.

Fisher, who moved out of Southwood Apartments in Louisville to preempt eviction, has since found work as a pharmacy technician. Mike Maple, a lawyer for Southwood Apartments, which operates under the legal name S.W. Tract 1 LLC, declined to comment. 

Fisher still does not know why the company wouldn’t accept eviction relief funding. For her part, she’s trying to move on despite her outstanding debts, which could be sent to collections.

After getting evicted from his home in Nelson County, Willman and his five kids and wife moved in with family in Ohio. To make ends meet, he had to junk his car for cash. He doubts he’ll ever return to Bardstown.

“I’m done with Kentucky,” he said.

Graham Ambrose is a Report for America corps member. Contact Graham at gambrose@kycir.org.

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University breaks ground at site of new residence hall Tuesday, Mar 9 2021 

By Anthony Riley —

The University of Louisville broke ground at the construction site of U of L’s new residence hall on Mar. 9. The new dorm will be built where Threlkeld  Hall once stood and is scheduled for completion by Fall 2022.

The new dorm is being built in tandem with the other residence hall.  Both will be located in front of the SAC in the center of campus.

The new hall features LEED silver certification, 452 rooms and a focus on accessibility with the inclusion of multiple elevators and wheelchair access.

Student input was important to the new dorm project; students had direct input on design, furniture, features and amenities, with the cooperation of both SGA and the RHA.

U of L President Neeli Bendapudi was scheduled to make an appearance at the ceremony but was unfortunately unable to attend; she instead gave her speech and remarks over the speaker system congratulating Messer Construction, Campus Housing, SGA and RHA on their efforts. 

Photos by Anthony Riley//The Louisville Cardinal

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Lawsuit: Tenants To Be Evicted Due To Zoom Changes Without Notice Tuesday, Feb 2 2021 

Remote eviction proceedings are violating the rights of hundreds of Louisville tenants after the location of virtual eviction hearings was changed without notifying defendants, according to a new lawsuit filed in federal court on Monday.

The complaint, which was filed by the Kentucky Equal Justice Center and is seeking class action status, is asking a federal judge to stop all eviction proceedings until the county court can guarantee “the minimum possible fairness required by the United States Constitution.”

The suit alleges tenants scheduled for eviction hearings in Jefferson County District Court were denied fair public hearings in violation of their rights.

“We need to be making eviction hearings uniform, safe and fair so evictions are vanishingly rare during a pandemic,” said Ben Carter, an attorney with the Kentucky Equal Justice Center.

“What we saw last week was the court violating constitutional rights, which is the last thing people should be doing right now.”

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Kentucky Supreme Court ordered court hearings to be held remotely. The Jefferson County District Court, which holds eviction court meetings on Zoom, sent participants information to call in by Zoom or phone.

The complaint alleges that on January 25, the court changed the Zoom number without notifying tenants. Since failure to appear at a hearing tends to result in a default judgment against the renter, a failure to notify tenants about location changes can create devastating outcomes.

The plaintiffs are Louisville residents Toni Floyd and Cheri Nicholson, who were “delayed, confused, and misdirected” by the court, the suit claims. After appearing late to their Zoom eviction hearings, both received judgments of eviction. 

According to the complaint, Floyd was laid off in December after an extended illness and months of on-and-off employment during the pandemic. On the morning of her Zoom eviction hearing, she called the number provided by the Jefferson District Court and was told by a recorded voice that the host had not yet started the meeting, according to the complaint. After a few minutes of waiting, Floyd was disconnected from the meeting. For the next halfhour, Floyd repeatedly tried calling the court directly to gain entry to the meeting.

She eventually tracked down the right call number and password. But upon entry into the virtual hearing, a judge told her she was too late: the case had already been called and judgment had already been entered. She was required to vacate the home within seven days. 

Floyd and Nicholson, who the complaint says was late to her hearing for similar reasons, were later contacted by the Legal Aid Society, which was listening to the proceedings. 

According to documents filed by the plaintiffs, the district court has “recently” changed the information provided to individuals facing eviction, instructing them to visit the court website to find remote courtroom information. But the lawsuit alleges this isn’t sufficient notice.

The suit also claims that the court “took no action to vacate those judgments and reschedule the hearings” for a later date.

“When eviction proceedings are entirely remote, changing the phone number to call to access a Zoom Eviction Hearing is the online analog to changing the physical location of the hearing,” the suit states. “The problem is not that the Court doesn’t know about the problem. The problem is that the Jefferson County District Court doesn’t think obvious violations of people’s most basic due process rights is actually a problem.”

Judge Anne Haynie, who is named as defendant, recently served as chief district judge for Jefferson County, a role now filled by District Judge Annette Karem. A spokesperson for the Administrative Office of the Courts said Kentucky judges are prohibited from commenting on pending matters.

The suit also argues eviction proceedings pose public health problems, since evictions are “a primary driver of the ongoing spread” of COVID-19. A recent analysis from researchers at Duke University estimated that local policies limiting evictions during the pandemic reduced the number of COVID-19 cases by 3.8% and deaths by 11%. The researchers also estimated that, if eviction moratoria had been implemented nationwide in March, deaths might have decreased by as much as 40.7%.

Hundreds of eviction hearings are scheduled in Kentucky over the coming weeks.

President Biden signed an executive order barring evictions over nonpayment through March 31. To qualify, renters must present their landlord with a declaration form stating their income would be no more than $99,000 for the year, and that the renter would likely become homeless or would need to share a residence with others in close quarters if their home were lost. 

Floyd signed and submitted that form when her landlord initiated eviction against her in January, according to the suit, which did not stop the eviction judgment against her.

“Evictions are a public health threat right now,” Carter said, and Louisvillians should think of an eviction moratorium as “one of the most effective things to do to keep everyone safe right now.”

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University students have mixed feelings about athletics’ new dorm Tuesday, Nov 24 2020 

By Grace Welsh-

On Oct. 28, the University of Louisville’s athletics department announced a plan for a new residence hall project, partially catering to U of L student-athletes. 

The housing project will cost approximately $23.5 million, with $3.5 million donated from the U of L Athletics program. Because of this, Cardinal Athletics reserves naming rights for the residence hall, and in accordance with NCAA guidelines, it will reserve no more than 63 of 128 beds for student athletes, their managers and assistants.  

The athletic hall, located across from Floyd Street, will be connected to the Planet Fitness Kueber Center via a skywalk. The dorm is being developed by Buffalo Construction and Larry Gough, developer of Cardinal Towne, and will house men’s and women’s basketball players, women’s lacrosse players and university students who are not athletes. 

The hall will have a distinctive, first-class look. “It will be a trophy facility that exudes progress on campus as much as in athletics,” Vince Tyra, director of athletics, said.  

Its goal is to add aesthetic value to the surrounding area and attract “top-level students and student-athletes alike.”

U of L students have differing opinions on the announcement of the new project. Although some are positive, others are critical of the university’s decision. 

Maranda Crittendon, a junior majoring in equine business, feels strongly about the subject saying the money could have been used elsewhere.

“It’s obscene that they’re building that instead of doing actual improvements on mold-infested Threlkeld and Miller, not to mention the horrible situation that is parking,” Crittendon said.

Freshman business major Connor Ford, echoed a similar sentiment. Ford said the total occupancy number doesn’t make the multi-million dollar price tag worth it.

“I don’t know why they’re spending that much money on a dorm that’s only gonna house maybe 100+ kids,” he said. “It just doesn’t add up. Some of the older dorms are not in the best condition and they should have some priority, too.”

On the other hand, some students see the project in a more positive light. 

Saidey Fahey, a sophomore criminal justice major, said that the athletes deserve the new housing opportunity because of the money that they bring into the school.

Fahey argues that athletes “don’t get to do a lot of what a normal college student does,” with the pressure of maintaining good grades, good public image, practicing and working out for the sake of their department. 

“At the end of day, they just want to sleep in a comfy bed, somewhere they feel safe and comfortable,” Fahey said.

Senior computer information systems Phillip Wellmann said “it’s a good decision as it gives athletes a space to live with one another on a set schedule.”

He noted the convenience of the practice facilities being so close, saying it will give students an opportunity to hold one another accountable academically and training wise.

“On top of this,” Wellmann said. “It gives SPAD majors a place of work and hands on applications in their field of study.”

The residence hall, yet to be named, is predicted to be completed by the fall semester of 2022.

Photo Courtesy of U of L Athletics

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Lawsuit Claims Redlining In Louisville Has Moved Online Tuesday, Nov 10 2020 

National Fair Housing Alliance, et al. v. Redfin

A map published in a lawsuit shows a familiar pattern of segregation in Louisville, in which homes listed in neighborhoods west and immediately south of downtown (represented by red dots) were allegedly denied services by Redfin while homes in the largely white neighborhoods in the eastern parts of Jefferson County (green dots) received services.

 

Fair housing organizations are accusing the online real estate broker Redfin of systematic racial discrimination in Louisville after an investigation found non-white neighborhoods in the West End and South End received fewer Redfin services than white neighborhoods in the eastern parts of the county.

The results point to a modern-day practice of “digital redlining” reminiscent of the policies that racially segregated Louisville during the mid-twentieth century, according to the Lexington Fair Housing Council, a nonprofit that investigates allegations of housing discrimination in Kentucky and one of ten plaintiffs that filed the suit against Redfin in the U.S. District Court in Seattle.

“People should care because we know how much housing impacts everything,” said Arthur Crosby, executive director of the Lexington Fair Housing Council. “Your access to education, your access to the internet, your access to health, your access to lending, your access to credit, your access to safety — all those things just depend on where you live.”

The plaintiffs say their two-year nationwide investigation shows Redfin was less likely to offer services — including virtual tours and professional photos, online promos, and realtor services — for homes listed in neighborhoods with large numbers of racial minorities. 

The Fair Housing Act, part of the Civil Rights Act of 1968, outlaws housing discrimination on the basis of race. 

In addition to Louisville, the plaintiffs studied the metropolitan areas of Baltimore, Chicago, Detroit, Kansas City, Long Island, Memphis, Milwaukee, Newark and Philadelphia.

The investigation compared homes listed in “extremely non-white” neighborhoods to homes listed in “extremely white” neighborhoods and then evaluated differences in services offered by Redfin.

On a single day in November 2018, there were 108 homes listed in “extremely non-white” zip codes in Louisville. None were offered Redfin’s “best available service” designation. By comparison, 61% of the more than 2,300 homes listed in “extremely white” zip codes were offered the site’s best available service.

In a follow-up two years later, the results were virtually identical: no homes in “extremely non-white” zip codes were offered Redfin’s best available service, whereas two-thirds of homes in “extremely white” zip codes were offered the best available service.

The investigation also calculated that homes in “extremely non-white” neighborhoods such as Crescent Hill and Germantown were about six times more likely to be offered “no service” by Redfin than homes in “extremely white” neighborhoods such as Russell and California.

“Buyers and sellers of homes in non-white areas are far less likely to be offered Redfin’s services and discounts than buyers and sellers of homes in white areas,” the lawsuit concludes. 

In Louisville, the allegations of digital redlining closely track with the legacies of residential redlining, or the practice by which the government and companies denied services such as mortgages or insurance to residents of predominantly Black areas, starving whole neighborhoods or wealth and other resources.

Cathy Kuhn, executive director of the Metropolitan Housing Coalition in Louisville, said Redfin’s practices affect all Louisvillians by limiting residential options. “We want a community where people have real choice about where they want to live,” she said.

In a statement released last week, Redfin CEO Glenn Kelman denied the company is breaking the law. 

“The challenge is that we don’t know how to sell the lowest-priced homes while paying our agents and other staff a living wage, with health insurance and other benefits,” Kelman wrote. “This is why Redfin agents aren’t always in low-priced neighborhoods. It’s why Redfin doesn’t serve many rural towns.

“Even though the suit is wrong about the law, the issues it raises are important to Redfin, to our society and to me. We have a long history of expanding into lower-priced communities; we want to expand faster,” Kelman added.

A main target of the lawsuit is Redfin’s “minimum price policy,” a price floor to qualify a home for Redfin services. The housing groups charge the policy is “arbitrary” because Redfin is guaranteed a minimum commission when serving as the seller’s agent, regardless of the listing price of the home.

“In predominantly non-white areas, Redfin sometimes has not offered its brokerage services to buyers and sellers of homes that were listed above the minimum price threshold,” the lawsuit claims. “In predominantly white areas, on the other hand, Redfin engaged in less case-by-case evaluation and was more likely to offer its services to buyers and sellers so long as the home was listed above the minimum price threshold.”

For fair housing advocates like Crosby of the Lexington Fair Housing Council, the investigation brings attention to lingering consequences of discrimination.

“We need to be honest in our conversation that Louisville is not segregated just because it was always like that or because that’s where people wanted to live,” Crosby said. “Louisville is segregated for specific, systemic things we did in the past, and we just felt comfortable leaving them in place.”

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Gallery: Students Move In Despite Covid-19 Concerns Wednesday, Aug 19 2020 

By Anthony Riley-

Amidst concerns over the novel Corona virus, students still filled each residence hall as the university reopens. Move-in Week was held over three days as opposed to the tradition of just one to help reduce crowding and close contact as following the CDC guidelines for social distancing. Despite worries over COVID-19, residence halls were reopened to students moving in to start the semester, and Welcome Week events and festivities were still held; with various changes to slow the spread of the virus.

Photos By Anthony Riley//The Louisville Cardinal

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Home Sales Fell Slightly in April, Prices Rising Wednesday, Jun 3 2020 

In the first full month of COVID-19 restrictions, the housing market in Kentucky slowed, but by no means did it stop.

The number of homes sold dropped 12.5 percent. While that’s significant, it’s much less than some believe it could have been. National experts have predicted an overall drop for 2020 of 10 percent, according to the Kentucky Realtors.

In Louisville, the drop from 2019 to 2020 was just 10.3 percent, with the average sales price jumping 5.6 percent to $236,368. However, the number of active listings was down 15.6 percent from a year ago.

The conclusion — low inventory brings higher prices.

Nationally, existing-home sales fell 17.8 percent, the largest drop in home sales nationally since July 2010.

“The economic lockdowns – occurring from mid-March through April in most states – have temporarily disrupted home sales.  But the listings that are on the market are still attracting buyers and boosting home prices. Record-low mortgage rates are likely to remain in place for the rest of the year and will be the key factor driving housing demand as state economies steadily reopen.” said Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist.

Average sale prices in Kentucky rose 8.4 percent to $212,361. Overall sales volume dropped just 5.1 percent.

“Buyers have not relaxed much during the pandemic shutdowns and the demand remains”, said Lester T. Sanders, President of Kentucky REALTORS®. “Some sellers have been cautious and waited to list homes. But, creative strategies, such as distancing, sanitizing, and virtual showings have allowed Kentuckians to keep homes on the market and still get top dollar.”

Inventory remains a concern, as the level fell again to 3.28 months (the amount of time it would take to sell available inventory).

 

 

 

Louisville Landlord Sued Over Late Fees, Eviction Threat Wednesday, May 13 2020 

A Louisville landlord that charged a tenant late fees after she failed to pay rent in April is being sued in Jefferson Circuit Court.

The Kentucky Equal Justice Center filed the suit this week, alleging Summerfield Realty LLC engaged in unfair, false, misleading and deceptive practices after  charging a $91 late fee onto the account of Katrice Gill and threatening Gill with eviction.

Gill, in an interview with KyCIR last month, said she was unable to pay her rent due to the pandemic. With her four kids at home, she’d been unable to work her job as a home health aide. Gill said she’d attempted to contact her landlord to work out a deal, but got no response.

The Kentucky Equal Justice Center alleges Summerfield Realty LLC violated stipulations set forth in the federal CARES Act, which prohibits landlords that participate in the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s voucher program from charging late fees, and the company threatened eviction when, in fact, state officials have instituted a moratorium on all evictions.

The class action suit seeks the return of any late fees collected by Summerfield Realty LLC, as well as a court order “requiring the landlord to reverse its unlawful charges and correct its misinformation, along with actual damages, punitive damages, and attorneys’ fees.”

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