Fair Housing Means Access and Accommodation

The June 22, 2021 Fair Housing webinar focused on fair housing considerations for people with disabilities. Several key stakeholders involved in disability rights and advocacy participated in the discussion of fair housing protections in light of the current housing crisis, which impacts people with disabilities and other protected classes much harder that it does the general population.

One question came up in the follow-up discussion:

What is the statute of limitations on filing a fair housing complaint? HUD’s position:

FHEO begins its complaint investigation process shortly after receiving a complaint. You must file your complaint within one year of the last date of the alleged discrimination under the Fair Housing Act. Other civil rights authorities allow for complaints to be filed after one year for good cause, but FHEO recommends filing as soon as possible.

The group agreed that those in the areas of housing and community development would benefit from a more inclusive planning and design process that engages people with disabilities to inform strategies that make communities more livable and affordable to everyone.

Links to session materials and referenced resources:

Why fair housing matters to…

As part of a Fair Housing Innovative Partnership – Education Outreach Initiative (FHIP-EOI) grant, the Idaho Housing and Finance Association (IHFA) created a series of first-person videos to understand how fair housing impacts all people. The idea was to interview individuals protected by fair housing laws, as well as employers, economists, developers, housing providers, planners and advocates.

These videos are available for sharing via social media, and provide first-hand, unscripted perspectives of real Idahoans and experts in several fields.

Most Americans understand the Fair Housing Act as landmark Civil Rights legislation prohibiting housing discrimination against members of protected classes and requiring reasonable accommodation for people with disabilities. Increasingly, research shows overall economic and social benefits made possible through more diverse communities, and economic opportunities created through housing choice—the right to live where we choose and can afford.

Economic opportunity depends on several factors made possible through fair housing choice, including access to essential community resources like employment, education, social services, recreation and transportation. At a very basic level, housing choice lets us build social capital—the network of trusted relationships and connections that can lead to better jobs, child care, and civic engagement.

As several interviewees point out, the social diversity made possible through fair housing is essential to a more diverse and resilient economy. Members of protected classes bring fresh perspective, ideas and energy that can boost productivity and efficiency; they become economic producers and entrepreneurs who create jobs. At the same time, they are consumers helping drive demand for more diverse products and services, which also creates additional employment opportunities. All of this generates economic energy and demand for taxable goods and services.

As author Jim Tankersley (The Riches of This Land: The Untold, True History of America’s Middle Class) sums it up,

…if you could give me one thing to do to supercharge the economy, I would say, end discrimination across the American economy. Discrimination is holding back our economy. It’s holding back our middle class.

Please take a few moments to explore these first-person videos to understand the importance fair housing through a different lens, and help spread the word by sharing them with others.

Spanish-language interviews | En Español

Ending Discrimination Would “Supercharge the Economy.”

…if you could give me one thing to do to supercharge the economy, I would say, end discrimination across the American economy. Discrimination is holding back our economy. It’s holding back our middle class.

Title in large red block letters against plain off-white background: The Riches of This Land: The story of what went wrong and how to get it back. Author Jim Tankersly

This is the conclusion of journalist Jim Tankersley, who covers economics and tax policy and recently published The Riches of This Land: The Untold, True History of America’s Middle Class.

He has spent over a decade studying the American middle class; how it became a symbol of the American Dream following World War II, how the middle class built one of the world’s most powerful economies, and how powerful interests undermined the gains of the working class. From the 1950s through the 80s, middle-class households with a single income earner could afford a home, car, health care, a college education…even vacations and retirement savings.

The erosion of the middle class means that today, most full-time workers are underwater as full-time work too often leaves many in poverty and debt. At the start of 2021, analysis indicates the extended pandemic and recession have resulted in the Sharpest Rise in Poverty Rate in More Than 50 Years. 

…if you were to design a recession to hurt most the people who have most helped to build the American middle class, you would design basically this one.

Tankersley advocates for policies that help those people responsible for the growth and productivity of the middle class from the 50s through the 80s, which he describes as, “women of all races…men of color and immigrants.” We hear time and again that these are the workers hurt most in the current recession. Women are the default caregivers when schools and child care centers are closed; they are most likely to care for elderly parents, and they the most likely to lose employment opportunities or promotions as a result.

Next to women, people of color and immigrants—often serving as essential workers—have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19, the lack of health care and sick leave, and the cascading impacts on employment options. This follows a steady decline in purchasing power and stability over the past 40 years.

This perspective draws the same conclusion as those pursuing economic resilience from a fair housing approach, which recognizes the access to opportunity afforded by housing types and price points distributed across regions, communities and neighborhoods. When everyone has access to stable housing and essential community assets, we all benefit from better overall health outcomes, increased productivity, and more people moving from public assistance to family supporting, gainful employment.

In his interview with Fresh Air co-host Dave Davies, Tankersley notes that, “…if you could reduce discrimination across the economy and invest in each other’s success, then we really could see this upward flow of talent and this boom of job creation and growth.”

 

IHFA Creates Fair Housing Video Series

Red logo banner with colorful and diverse profiles on the left facing right toward the text 'Know Your Right! The Fair Housing Act Protects All of Us?

As part of a HUD Fair Housing Initiatives Program – Education Outreach Initiative grant, the Idaho Housing and Finance Association (IHFA) has created a series of four videos that outline rights and opportunities guaranteed by the federal Fair Housing Act. While fair housing law and protections are broad in scope, these videos aim to present basic information and encourage individuals to better understand and assert their rights in pursuit of economic and social opportunities, freedom from discrimination and options to report violations.

Videos are available for viewing and sharing via social media at the links below:

Thanks to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development for the support of this effort. Ensuring the right of every person to live where we choose and can afford requires constant attention and cooperation. We all play a role in fair housing.

Acknowledgement/disclaimer. The work that provided the basis for these products was supported by funding under a grant with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The substance and findings of the work are dedicated to the public. The authors and publishers are solely responsible for the accuracy of the statements and interpretations contained in this publication. Such interpretations do not necessarily reflect the views of the Federal Government.