On April 1, 2021, HUD kicked off Fair Housing Month 2021. This year’s Fair Housing Month theme, Fair Housing: More Than Just Words, reflects HUD’s commitment to advancing equity in housing and the importance of increasing public awareness of everyone’s right to fair housing. Click here for HUD’s commemoration.
Fair housing advocates across North Carolina, have held events all month to celebrate Fair Housing Month 2021.
On Friday, April 23, 2021, fair housing advocates, community members, government officials, and industry stakeholders gathered for the 18th Annual Fair Housing Community Conference in Raleigh, sponsored by the Fair Housing Project and the City’s Fair Housing Hearing Board.
This year’s conference, Restructuring Institutional Reform and the Rights of People with Disabilities, reflected on the history of fair housing across the country and examined the latest and most pressing fair housing issues we face today. The conference presented two panel discussions, each with prominent local and national speakers.
The first panel, Renting with a Criminal History: Using Fair Housing Law and Advocacy to Challenge Housing Discrimination, featured Dawn Blagrove, Executive Director, Emancipate NC; Quisha Mallette, Staff Attorney, Fair Chance Project, NC Justice Center; and Kerwin Pittman, Community Activist and Field Director, Emancipate NC. Panelists discussed the collateral consequences of criminal background screening policies used by housing providers and the Fair Housing Act protections for individuals with a criminal history who are seeking housing. Wanda Gilbert-Coker, Raleigh Fair Housing Hearing Board, served as moderator.
The second panel, Emerging Issues in Disability Rights Law, featured Wanda Allen-Abraha, Director, Human Relations Dept., City of Winston Salem; Steve Dane, Attorney, Dane Law, LLC; and Scheree Gilchrist, Managing Attorney, Helpline, Legal Aid of North Carolina. Panelists discussed reasonable accommodations under the Fair Housing Act involving service and assistance animals, disability rights law during the COVID-19 pandemic, and eviction protections during the COVID-19 pandemic. Collin Bober, Raleigh Fair Housing Hearing Board, served as the moderator.
The conference also featured keynote speaker Lisa Rice, President and CEO of the National Fair Housing Alliance (NFHA). In this role, Ms. Rice leads efforts by NFHA and its partners to advance fair housing principles and to preserve and broaden fair housing protections, expanding equal housing opportunities for millions of Americans. Ms. Rice’s keynote address reflected on the systemic housing discrimination and segregation issues that have long faced our communities throughout the nation. Ms. Rise also examined the legal and non-legal tools available to continue to challenge these most pressing issues and help ensure our communities can realize equal housing opportunities consistent with the Fair Housing Act.
This year, Legal Aid of North Carolina’s Executive Director George Hausen presented the Fair Housing Project’s Stella J. Adams Fair Housing Advocate Award to Disability Rights North Carolina for their work in cases involving civil rights, fair housing, and institutionalized discrimination. This award is given each year by the Fair Housing Project of Legal Aid of North Carolina to a deserving individual or organization in recognition of their work and commitment to the fair housing and civil rights of North Carolinians.
More from this Newsletter Issue: Spring 2021
Subscribe to the Newsletter