Fulfilling the promises of the Fair Housing Act

A note from our Associate Director, 4/29/2022

You may know that April is National Fair Housing Month, when advocates across the country celebrate the passage of the Federal Fair Housing Act of 1968. We’re reminded each April of the hard work and sacrifices made before us that allow us to continue the fight toward ending housing discrimination.

While it may be the end of the month, our work continues year-round. The Fair Housing Act holds the promise of equal and equitable access to housing, paths to homeownership, and ending discrimination in housing based on the federally-protected classes in the FHA: race, color, religion, national origin, sex*, disability, and familial status (the presence of children). But, as you know, the FHA is not self-enforcing.

Our country still has a long way to go to fulfill these promises and rectify decades of segregation and policies that have harmed so many. However, thanks to supporters like you, we continue making strides on local, state, and federal levels that aim to make a real, lasting positive impact.

The Fair Housing Center contributes to the pursuit of these ideals by enforcing the Act. Over the last two years, our office has taken a record number (358) new fair housing complaints. We resolved six fair housing lawsuits with total settlements of approximately $54,000 for complainants. Two of these cases involved race and criminal background, two others were based on having children in the household (both involving solo mothers), and two were disability-related. These efforts resulted in the opening up of over 360 rental units free from discrimination and policy changes at two apartment complexes.

At the same time, we helped ensure that 18 people with disabilities throughout our service area were granted the reasonable accommodations necessary to provide them equitable access to housing, including ramps, reserved parking spaces, and emotional support animals.

Our work doesn’t stop there. We continue to make hundreds of non-fair housing referrals to other agencies each year; field fair housing-related questions from attorneys, advocates, and government staff; train social service providers, provide education and outreach to the broader community; and conduct hundreds of investigations on our complaints.

I am really proud of the work that we do here and I know we make an impact on individuals, and the housing landscape, in our 10-county area and beyond. That our work has far-reaching effects is important to me because of the possibility of truly bringing home the promise of the Fair Housing Act.

If you want to join the movement to fulfill these promises for our communities, I encourage you to give generously today. Let’s keep working on this together.

In peace and justice,
Kristen Cuhran Fuller
Associate Director

* Thanks to clarification by the Biden Administration, sex discrimination protections now officially include sexual orientation, and gender identity/expression. The Act continues to provide protection against sexual harassment in housing.

black and white men protesting for civil rights
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Fair Housing Center Resolves First Lawsuit in Shiawassee County – Reasonable Accommodation Granted to Corunna Resident

We are pleased to announce that a new fair housing disability discrimination lawsuit was settled in the Eastern District of Michigan by FHC Cooperating Attorney Daniel Gwinn. Our complainant accepted a monetary settlement and was given her reserved accessible parking space and sign. This is the first FHC-aided fair housing complaint in Shiawassee County.

Settlement reached after elderly woman denied handicapped parking space at Shiawassee County apartment complex,” MLive-The Flint Journal, 3/11/2022

Fair Housing Center Resolves First Lawsuit in Shiawassee County”Durand Now, 3/16/2022 

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Housing Advocates Training, April 2022

Register and Learn More Here

This two-day virtual training is an excellent resource for anyone working as an advocate (clients/consumers also welcome). Housing Advocates Training (HAT) is three 2 – 2.5 hour sessions, and Public Benefits Training (PBT) is an optional two-hour session. Trainers include staff and attorneys from the Fair Housing Center of Southeast & Mid Michigan, the Michigan Poverty Law Program, and Legal Services of South Central Michigan. Registration is required.

HAT is designed to help social service professionals gain a working knowledge of fair housing law, landlord/tenant law, and housing subsidy programs. Please note that this training is not intended for housing providers or realtors- feel free to contact us with questions about this. 

Housing Advocates Training (HAT) – Zoom Virtual Event
Tuesday, April 12: 10 am – 3:30 pm (one hour break for lunch noon – 1 PM) 
Thursday, April 14: 10 am – noon

Public Benefits Training (PBT)
Thursday, April 14: 1 pm – 3 pm

Register and Learn More Here

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We are hiring

The Fair Housing Center of Southeast & Mid Michigan is seeking a qualified individual to provide programmatic and administrative support. This position will be based in Ypsilanti*; occasional travel may be required within our 10-county service area (Clinton, Eaton, Hillsdale, Ingham, Jackson, Lenawee, Livingston, Monroe, Shiawassee, and Washtenaw Counties). 

Read the entire posting here.

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Tickets on Sale Now for 8th Annual Fair Housing Breakfast

Fair Housing Center Raising Funds to Combat Housing Discrimination

The Fair Housing Center (FHC) will host its 8th Annual Fair Housing Breakfast on October 21st at Weber’s Inn in Ann Arbor. Funds raised from this event go directly toward ending housing discrimination and expanding equal housing opportunities, making our community more open, accessible, and inclusive for all.

All are welcome to attend this event, which brings together housing professionals, advocates, educators, government officials, and other community members from across our 10-county service area. The space is wheelchair accessible and interpretation services are available. At this time the FHC will require all attendees to be fully vaccinated, and will reevaluate health and safety measures closer to the date of the event.

The FHC is pleased to announce Robert G. Schwemm will be the guest speaker. Professor Schwemm’s fair housing writings include the leading treatise in the field, Housing Discrimination: Law and Litigation, and numerous articles in leading law reviews throughout the country. He has been plaintiff’s counsel in many significant housing discrimination cases, including three in the U.S. Supreme Court. Professor Schwemm is the Ashland-Spears Distinguished Research Professor Emeritus at the University of Kentucky College of Law. Prior to becoming a law professor, he practiced with Sidley & Austin in Washington, D.C., and then served as chief trial counsel for the Leadership Council for Metropolitan Open Communities in Chicago.

Many of his articles are available at: http://works.bepress.com/robert_schwemm

8th Annual Fair Housing Breakfast
Thursday, October 21
8:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.
Weber’s Inn, 3050 Jackson Road, Ann Arbor

Cost: Tickets must be purchased in advance; the cost is $50 for members of the FHC, $75 for non-members. Table discounts available. Details at www.fhcmichigan.org/breakfast or directly on Ticket Tailor.

This event is made possible thanks to the generosity of its Sponsors. To see a list of all Breakfast sponsors, please visit www.fhcmichigan.org/breakfast

Gold:

McKinley Companies, LLC

Washtenaw County Office of Community and Economic Development

Silver:
Bank of Ann Arbor
Homepoint
PNC Bank
Zillow

Interested in sponsorship? Contact Kristen at kcuhran@fhcmichigan.org or view the Sponsorship Invitation.

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