Home, sweet home: It’s Fair Housing Month in the Asheville area

It’s Fair Housing Month in Asheville. This year marks the 46th anniversary of the passage of the federal Fair Housing Act, Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968, which was signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson. Perhaps the tragic assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on April 4, 1968, was the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back and ultimately led to the signing of the Fair Housing Act merely seven days later. The act prohibits discrimination in the sale, rental and financing of housing based on seven protected classes: race, color, religion, sex, national origin, familial status and disability.

 The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity enforces the Fair Housing Act by investigating fair housing complaints, administering grants to support equal opportunity housing programs and advocating for equal opportunity housing policies. HUD relies on state and local governments, as well as nonprofit organizations, to assist in fair housing enforcement and provides federal funding to these entities to do just that. State and local governments that receive Community Development Block Grants, HOME Investment Partnerships, Emergency Solutions Grants, and Housing Opportunities for Persons With AIDS, as well as public housing agencies, are required to affirmatively further fair housing, which means make policy decisions, development decisions and conduct all activities in a manner that support equal opportunity housing for all.

On April 8, Mayor Esther Manheimer  proclaimed April as Fair Housing Month in Asheville and recognized the collaborative efforts of the Asheville-Buncombe Community Relations Council, Pisgah Legal Services and the N.C. Human Relations Commission in the fight against unlawful housing discrimination.

The Asheville-Buncombe Community Relations Council is a 44-year-old organization that was instrumental in helping to desegregate Asheville during the civil rights movement of the 1960s.  ABCRC’s mission is to partner with people and organizations to embrace responsibility for equity and inclusion. ABCRC works toward this mission by implementing four key programs:

Resource, Referral and Education for Discrimination Claims

ABCRC assists individuals in addressing issues of discrimination in housing, employment, public safety, schools and private businesses.  ABCRC provides support in navigation of formal complaint processes, educates clients about their rights, refers clients to other agencies when appropriate and utilizes other mechanisms for conflict management.

Police-Community Relations

ABCRC facilitates positive interactions between citizens and local law enforcement officials by hosting community meetings, providing a safe atmosphere for healthy dialogue and assisting clients in navigating the formal police complaint process.

Diversity and Inclusion Training

The goal of this new program is to use educational and training activities to assist businesses, organizations, governments and individuals to improve their cultural competency by increasing their knowledge of diversity and inclusion.

Fair Housing Outreach and Education:

ABCRC conducts grass-roots outreach efforts, in partnership with state and local governments and organizations, to help individuals understand their rights and responsibilities under the Fair Housing Act, and the resources available to address and peacefully resolve issues of housing discrimination or other perceived discrimination.

Achieving fair housing in our community requires collective involvement of all citizens, governments, businesses and organizations. How can you help?

1) Become a fair housing tester for Legal Aid of North Carolina. For more information about the Fair Housing Testing Program, contact Amberly  Datillo: amberlyd@legalaidnc.org

2) Participate in a brand-new local Fair Housing Working Group. ABCRC wants to coordinate Asheville’s first Fair Housing Working Group, which will include a series of community conversations around issues of equity in housing in the Asheville and Buncombe County area.

3) Volunteer.  You can help us distribute fliers and staff tables at community events.

4) Host ABCRC for a fair housing training session. ABCRC can customize Fair Housing training sessions to meet the needs of your neighborhood, church, organization, business, institution or group.

5) Donate to ABCRC. Visit our website at abcrc.org

For more information, contact the ABCRC (50 S. French Broad Ave., Ste. 204) at 252-4713 or email Program Director  Lucia Daugherty at lucia@abcrc.org, or Fair Housing Outreach Coordinator Cassidy Moore at cassidy@abcrc.org.


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