Did you know that April is National Fair Housing Month? This year marks the 55th anniversary of the passage of the Fair Housing Act, the landmark civil rights law that made discrimination in housing transactions unlawful. The Act prohibits discrimination because of race, color, national origin, religion, sex (including gender identity and sexual orientation), disability, and familial status.
Here in Delaware, Community Legal Aid Society, Inc. (CLASI)’s Fair Housing Program is celebrating its 20th year of operation. In partnership with the U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development, CLASI’s team of attorneys, paralegals, and fair housing testers work to eradicate housing discrimination statewide. They assist people who believe they have been victims of housing discrimination through advocacy and enforcement actions; engage in activities designed to encourage fair housing practices through education and outreach; and work to identify barriers to fair housing in order to counteract and eliminate any discriminatory housing practices in Delaware.
Over the last two years, CLASI’s Fair Housing Program has handled over 187 cases for Delawareans who believed they’d experienced housing discrimination or who needed a reasonable accommodation because of a disability. These cases involved complaints based on a range of protected classes, including disability, race, familial status, sex, national origin, age, religion, sexual orientation, and source of income. For example, they recently assisted a client who was blind and facing eviction because the landlord wasn’t providing notices in an accessible format and another client with a traumatic brain injury who had forgotten to pay rent due to their disability. With CLASI’s assistance, these clients were able to remain in their homes.
CLASI also has a robust Fair Housing Testing Program, led by Program Coordinator Linda Jackson (pictured here). Trained testers look for evidence of discrimination in housing transactions including rentals, sales, mortgage lending, homeowner’s insurance, and home appraisals throughout Delaware. In the past two years, they’ve conducted 256 separate tests looking at housing discrimination and accessibility and trained 30 housing testers.
To learn more about CLASI’s Fair Housing Program, please visit: http://www.declasi.org/fair-housing/