The Government Shutdown

Has the Government Shutdown affected the Tennessee Fair Housing Council? This is a question we have been asked a lot recently. The answer is emphatically YES!
Since 2016, The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has experienced alleged difficulties that have created 4 and 6 week gaps in funding. 2018 was the last year of our 3-year grant cycle and the Council submitted a timely grant proposal on Dec. 19, 2018… Two days before the shutdown.

As originally communicated to us, the Council faced up to a 5 month gap between the end of one grant and the beginning of another. Due to the shutdown, no one was reviewing the grant proposals so, all things being equal, we likely face a 6 – 6.5 month gap. Half a year without our primary funding source.

What this means for our clients is that we have had to cut services since January 1 – from serving 7 counties to serving 1. If the gap is as anticipated, we face 5 to 6.5 months without our major source of funding; longer if the government shuts down again.

Channels 4 and 5 in Nashville have run stories on our organization recently. The links are below.……


MDHA Accepting Pre-Screening Forms for Homeowner Rehabilitation Loan Program

MDHA Accepting Pre-Screening Forms for Homeowner Rehabilitation Loan Program
Davidson County Owner-Occupied Houses

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Metropolitan Development and Housing Agency is accepting pre-screening forms for its Homeowner Rehabilitation Loan Program, which is designed to correct health and safety issues in Davidson County owner-occupied homes. The program preserves existing affordable housing stock by providing assistance to repair major housing systems, such as roofing, electrical, plumbing, accessibility and heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems.

Eligible households must have a gross annual household income of less than 80 percent of Area Median Income (AMI), which equals $54,950 for a family of four and $38,500 for an individual. Eligible properties are single family houses or condominiums in Davidson County that are the owner’s primary residence. All properties must be current on property taxes, mortgages payments and homeowner’s insurance and flood insurance, if applicable.

Assistance will be provided on a first-come, first-served basis, upon receipt of a completed pre-screening form, application, and determination of eligibility and priority status, until funding is exhausted. Priority for assistance will be given to homes occupied by eligible residents age 62 or older, persons who have disabilities, homeowners that have never received assistance through the program before and very low-income homeowners, who earn less than 50 percent of AMI, which equals $34,350 for a family of four and $24,050 for an individual.

Pre-screening forms are available on MDHA’s website (Click here for a direct link to the form) and at MDHA’s Community Development Department at 712 South Sixth Street in Nashville between 7:30 a.m. and 4 p.m. weekdays. To receive a pre-screening form by mail, request accommodation or language assistance, call 615-252-8530. Telecommunication Device for the Deaf: 615-252-8599.

The Metropolitan Development and Housing Agency (MDHA) does not discriminate on the basis of age, race, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, genetic information, color, national origin, religion, disability or any other legally protected status in admission to, access to, or operations of its programs, services, or activities.

Para asistencia en Español llame al 615-252-8505

如果需要本通知的中文翻译,请打电话 615-252-8505

Để nhận một bản dịch Tiếng Việt của thông báo này, vui lòng gọi: 615-252-8505

للحصول على ترجمة عربية لهذا البيان، يرجى الإتصال بـ: 615-252-8505

Haddii aad rabto qoraalkan oo af-Soomaali lagu tarjumay haddii aad doonayso fadlan naga soo wac: 615-252-8505


MDHA to open Section 8 Voucher waiting list

Applications to Open for Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Waiting List
MDHA Accepting Online Only Applications From Noon Sept. 13 Until 3 p.m. Sept. 19, 2017

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Metropolitan Development and Housing Agency will open applications for its Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) waiting list from noon Sept. 13 until 3 p.m. Sept. 19, 2017.

The HCV waiting list is NOT on a first-come, first-served basis, so as long as you apply during the waiting list period, you have an equal chance of being placed near the top of the waiting list.

Applications for the waiting list will be available online only at (click on the button that says Apply for Section 8) beginning at noon on Sept. 13, 2017. A valid email address is required, and all applicants will need to create a NEW username and password.

For participants who need assistance with the online application, MDHA staff will be available from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 14 and Friday, Sept. 15 at the Randee Rogers Training Center, located at 1419 Rosa L. Parks Boulevard. Anyone needing access to a computer may visit a public library.

The HCV Program is the federal government’s major program for assisting low-income individuals and families. Through that program, MDHA assists more than 7,000 families in Davidson County.

For assistance with language interpretation or other accommodation or service, call 615-782-3960.


But Don’t I Have a Right to an Attorney?

Unlike in criminal proceedings, where defendants have a constitutionally guaranteed right to counsel, not all litigants in all civil proceedings have a right to counsel.

Instead the U.S. Supreme Court found a “presumption that an indigent litigant [in a civil proceeding] has a right to appointed counsel only when, if he loses, he may be deprived of his physical liberty.” In spite of this presumption, the due process clause “does not always require the provision of counsel in civil proceedings where incarceration is threatened,” such as civil contempt proceedings.


Holding HUD Accountable

HENRICO COUNTY, Va. — Raw sewage on the ground, stairs in disrepair, and boarded up windows are just a few of the 140 code violations Henrico County issued to the Essex Village apartment complex back in November of 2016.

Deputy County Manager Doug Middleton told CBS 6 Problem Solver investigator Melissa Hipolit “it’s not a place anybody should live,” after issuing the violations.

But, the Section 8 complex had previously received a decent inspection score from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD): a 75b out of 100.…



NASHVILLE — The Chestnut Bend Home Owners Association (CBHOA) in Franklin, Tenn., has settled a federal lawsuit filed against it in early 2012 for $156,000.

The Plaintiffs, Charles and Melanie Hollis and their youngest two children, both of whom have Down Syndrome, filed the suit on Feb. 2, 2012, with Larry Crain of Crain, Schuette & Associates, a Brentwood law firm, and Tracey McCartney, Executive Director of the Tennessee Fair Housing Council, representing them. Meagan Dolleris, the Council’s staff attorney, also assisted in the litigation.

The suit alleged that, throughout most of 2011, the CBHOA’s Architectural Review Committee (ARC) refused to allow the Hollis family to create a sun room to be used as a therapeutic area for the young children to receive physical therapy and to play in a safe environment, either because they disagreed with the family’s design choices or deemed the applications incomplete. Because of the manifestations of the children’s disabilities, the Hollises needed the sun room to house therapy equipment for stimulation and development.

In the fall of 2011, the Hollises approached the Tennessee Fair Housing Council’s executive director, Tracey McCartney, for assistance. McCartney contacted the ARC through a representative of CBHOA’s management company, Westwood Property Management LLC, and asked for a list of acceptable construction materials for the sunroom project so that she could assist the family in submitting a new proposal and educating the ARC and CBHOA on the requirements of the Fair Housing Act. The Act makes it illegal to refuse to permit reasonable modifications of existing premises if such modifications may be necessary to afford a person with disabilities full enjoyment of the home.

In its final request for approval, the Hollises asked to construct a sun room that would match that of a neighbor, which had a metal roof, and the ARC had previously indicated in writing that a metal roof would be acceptable. However, after McCartney submitted the proposal in early December 2011 for a sun room with a metal roof, the ARC, via its attorney, responded that “(t)he subdivision standard roof is shingle and not metal. Although metal roofs are in vogue right now the ARC prefers not to approve a metal roof.”

The letter also conditioned the sunroom approval process on the Hollises providing a written assurance that “the exercise equipment would be placed and maintained in the sunroom and not moved outside without further application to the ARC.” That assurance was not required of others requesting to modify their homes.

The Hollises and McCartney considered that letter a refusal to allow the reasonable modification and gave the ARC until Dec. 22, 2011, to reverse itself. Neither the ARC nor the CBHOA responded. The Hollises, frustrated by the refusal and by their treatment at the hands of the Architectural Review Committee, sold their home at a loss and moved out of the neighborhood. They filed the lawsuit shortly thereafter.

The case has resulted in an important clarification of the Fair Housing Act in the 6th Circuit. The trial court had found that the CBHOA may have failed to permit the reasonable modification but held that the plaintiffs had failed to produce any evidence that the CBHOA’s actions were motivated by discriminatory intent against people with disabilities. The trial judge also held that the Charles and Melanie Hollis did not have the right to sue on their own (as opposed to filing as the parents of the children) because they did not have any damages of their own. As a result, the trial judge dismissed the Hollises’ case.

The Hollises, with the representation of Stephen Dane and Ryan Downer of Relman, Dane and Colfax, a leading Washington, D.C., civil rights firm, appealed the case to the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals, which held that it is not necessary to show discriminatory intent in a reasonable modification case. The 6th Circuit also held that the Hollises had alleged they had been economically harmed by the CBHOA and thus had standing to sue. (The 6th Circuit covers Tennessee, Kentucky, Ohio and Michigan.)

Westwood, a Franklin, Tenn.-based company that provides management services to CBHOA and other home owner associations, was originally named as a defendant in the lawsuit. The plaintiffs agreed to dismiss Westwood in August of 2013 in exchange for its commitment to provide annual fair housing training for its employees, to engage the services of an experienced fair housing lawyer and to develop a fair housing policy. The plaintiffs insisted on these assurances after learning that the company apparently had not been requiring any of its managers to receive training on the Fair Housing Act.

In addition to the payment to the Hollises, the settlement agreement with CBHOA requires it to work only with management companies that have a fair housing policy and whose employees receive annual fair housing training. The CBHOA did not admit wrongdoing as part of the settlement.

The Tennessee Fair Housing Council’s involvement in this litigation was made possible by a grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Fair Housing Initiatives Program.