“…where one lives determines how one lives, influencing quality of life factors such as education, employment, transportation options, public services, safety, recreational access, and a general sense of community.”
– CHICAGO METROPOLITAN AGENCY FOR PLANNING FHEA
In last Thursday’s post on redlining, I touched on one of the major practices that has historically kept people of color from an open an fair housing market. Unfortunately, this is far from the only one, nor are these unfair practices all behind us.
In fact, it is not just people of color, but families, the elderly, people with physical impairments, the LGBTQ community and those with limited English proficiency, among others, that face barriers to fair housing.
April is Fair Housing month, a time for highlighting these challenges and working together to help eliminate the roadblocks that people face to quality housing.
The Erie County Fair Housing Partnership brings together a coalition of local service providers, non-profits, government agencies and local businesses in order to advance fair housing in the region. Make Communities had the honor of presenting the One Region Forward Fair Housing Equity Assessment (FHEA) at their annual meeting, earlier this year. In all, though, the FHEA is a document that reflects their shared knowledge and passion for this work.
Among them, Housing Opportunities Made Equal (HOME) has been a champion of fair housing in the region for decades. From their website:
Housing Opportunities Made Equal is a fair housing organization continuing the struggle for civil rights by working to promote the value of diversity and to ensure all people an equal opportunity to live in the housing and communities of their choice—-through education, advocacy, the enforcement of fair housing laws and the creation of housing opportunities.
The FHEA summarizes their activities:
“HOME now operates a comprehensive set of Fair Housing activities in the seven county region… HOME offers a landlord and tenant training program, and a community education program that spans from workshops to publications for human service agencies, government and school groups.
Through their Fair Housing Unit, HOME also provides direct assistance to victims of housing discrimination, by investigating complaints, informing clients of the law and of their legal rights and helping them to navigate the system of enforcement. HOME also operates the Greater Buffalo Community Housing Center… to help voucher recipients evaluate their housing and location options to determine what neighborhood(s) will provide them with the best housing options for them. Since its inception, the program has assisted more than 4,000 families.”
For all of the great work that HOME and non-profit housing providers have accomplished, there is still much work to be done. That’s just one of the reasons a host of neighborhood based organizations will be participating in Fair Housing Month activities throughout April.
Throughout the month, we’ll also continue to highlight some of the challenges facing Fair Housing and organizations striving for housing equity, and we’ll also look at some of the recommendations for advancing this important cause.