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April is National Fair Housing Month! 

Traveling back into history, Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1968; he signed a provision which is now known as the Fair Housing Act.  The Fair Housing Act, as amended, prohibits discrimination in the sale, rental, or financing of housing based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, disability, and familial status.

It was originally passed to fix residential segregation by preventing individuals from marginalized communities from being discriminated against in the sale or rental of housing. The Act also outlawed discrimination in advertising and zoning, and prohibited banks from practicing redlining (denying financial services based on where an individual lives).

While it has been nearly 52 years since the Fair Housing Act took effect, there is still work to be done in fighting housing discrimination.  Housing discrimination, although illegal, still happens today and housing opportunities continue to remain unequal.

We know from the ICADV Re-Centering Report that the need most expressed by survivors is that of safe and stable housing, and we know there is a shortage. The National Network to End Domestic Violence’s NNEDV’s DV Counts Census for Indiana found that in one day, there were 135 unmet requests for services, of which 89 percent (120) were for Housing and Emergency Shelter due to a lack of program capacity and resources.

With stable housing being a key need, it is important to break down the barriers that can prevent survivors from obtaining it: discrimination being a big one.

It is also important to understand that Indiana Code 32-31-9 protects the housing rights of any person who is a victim or an alleged victim of domestic or family violence, sexual assault, or stalking.

Here are some ways housing programs and communities can help to bring awareness and fight housing discrimination:

  • Display the Fair Housing Logo within offices and on documents or pamphlets that are distributed
  • Educate tenants on VAWA rights and Fair Housing laws
  • Ensure all policies and procedures are fair and equal to all participants
  • Be consistent in the application of rules for all participants in programs
  • Keep records of interactions with landlords, as you may need documentation if a complaint has to be filed
  • Provide reasonable accommodations for people with disabilities, this includes advocating on behalf of persons with disabilities
  • Welcome everyone!
  • File or assist in filing complaints when discrimination occurs

If you or someone you know is experiencing housing discrimination related to HUD-funded programs in Indiana, a complaint can be filed here or contacting the Indianapolis Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity (FHEO) at 317-957-7332.

All other discrimination complaints, not related to HUD-funded programs, should be filed here or by calling the Indiana Civil Rights Commission at 1-800-628-2909.

 

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