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April is Fair Housing Month

Posted: April 16, 2013 4:36 p.m.
Updated: April 17, 2013 5:00 a.m.

Every year the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) proclaims April as Fair Housing Month. The purpose of this designation is to celebrate the passage of the Fair Housing Act in 1968. During this month HUD reaches out to the public with the message that “every person has the right to equal choices in housing.” In the same way, the city of Camden wants the public to be knowledgeable about fair housing and related practices by defining fair housing, stating what it protects and describing why it’s important.

What is fair housing?

Also referred to as “equal housing opportunity,” fair housing is a legal right that protects people from discrimination in the sale and rental of housing, real estate brokerage and lending, and other housing related services.

What does it protect?

Fair housing gives individuals the right to live wherever his or her means allow. Specifically, people cannot be denied housing or housing related services based on race, color, religion, sex (gender), national origin, disability (mental and physical), or familial status (presence of children under 18 in the home). For example, an apartment complex must honor a request from a mobility-impaired tenant for a reserved space to assure that he/she can have access to their apartment. In the same way, if an apartment building has a no pet policy, they must allow a visually impaired tenant to have a guide dog, if needed.

Why is it important?

Fair housing goes beyond “just where someone lives.” Rather it plays a role in determining the quality of life for people, especially minorities. Where someone lives also governs their access to public services like transportation and schools. It also decides their access to employment, medical services, retail choices, food options, and recreational opportunities. Part of the “American Dream” is choosing, owning, and being responsible for your house or home. Housing discrimination is an obstacle to obtaining this Dream, and illegal at that.

It is with great vision that Congress included fair housing legislation into civil rights laws in 1968. By living as neighbors, minority and majority families have the opportunity to understand each other and together become “one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

(This information provided by the city of Camden.)

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