Monday, May 2, 2011

NO Children, Pets OK

April is over and I've been remiss by not spending a few minutes talking about the National Association of Realtors Fair Housing Month.  Each April, a great deal of time, money and energy is spent educating Realtors and the public about Equal Opportunity Housing laws.  Even though it's now May, the lessons from this annual endeavor continue and rightly so.

The title of this article comes from a rental ad for housing that saw print somewhere in New York.  Since we're concentrating our efforts to help alleviate homelessness with respect to families, this advertisement really caught my eye. I frequently wonder where our priorities are.  While spending time on research, I noticed a few more "interesting" ads from a 2009 study done by the National Fair Housing Alliance::
"3BR, prefer quiet, respectful professional" (Missouri)
"3BR, no kids allowed", (Texas)
"2BR, no smoking, kids or pets" (Colorado)
"2BR, no families or anything" (Kentucky)
What exactly does a quiet and respectable professional need with 3 bedrooms?  And, "go ahead, burn the place down, but don't let the kids spill on the carpet" in Colorado?  Sorry, this isn't making any sense to me!

So, even though, for over 30 years,  the NAR (National Association of Realtors) has designated April for the study of Fair Housing, it's painfully obvious that we still have a long way to go. NFHI (National Fair Housing Alliance) says,
"Every day in the United States, thousands of people view rental advertisements that illegally deny housing to families with children and others protected by the federal Fair Housing Act"
Of course, the Fair Housing Act provides consumer equal opportunity protection in many areas, not just family status.  But for today, we're mainly interested in this piece of the legislation.  Why should we care?  Well, first of all it has been the law of the land since 1968!  Then, of course, there ARE significant penalties for non-compliance. Want to see some of the numbers?  Click Here and follow the directions.  It's expensive to discriminate!

But the penalties shouldn't be the guiding force here!  We're a nation built on the idea that freedom and accessibility to all things is a right! We know this - and demand it.  Equal access to housing is more simply, just the right thing to do! It is a critical piece in the enjoyment of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.  (Note: There's just no way to rationalize that statement if we allow children to continue living in an abandoned warehouses - just saying.)

If you feel you have been the target of discrimination with respect to a violation of Fair Housing laws and wish to KNOW YOUR RIGHTS, please click the link.

According to the HUD (Housing and Urban Development) website:
If your case goes to an administrative hearing HUD attorneys will litigate the case on your behalf. You may intervene in the case and be represented by your own attorney if you wish. An Administrative Law Judge (ALA) will consider evidence from you and the respondent. If the ALA decides that discrimination occurred, the respondent can be ordered:
  • To compensate you for actual damages, including humiliation, pain and suffering.
  • To provide injunctive or other equitable relief, for example, to make the housing available to you.
  • To pay the Federal Government a civil penalty to vindicate the public interest. The maximum penalties are $16,000 for a first violation and $65,000 for a third violation within seven years.
  • To pay reasonable attorney's fees and costs.
This is printed as a public service announcement, wishing desperately it wasn't necessary.

NEXT POST:  Homeless In Suburbia

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