(WALA) - The Fair Housing Act was enacted 45 years ago in April, 1968 and the month of April is set aside each year to recognize the Act and to emphasize Fair Housing.
U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Alabama Kenyen R. Brown said, "The purpose of the Fair Housing Act of 1968 was to eliminate discrimination in housing opportunities and to affirmatively further housing choices for all Americans. However, there exists an ongoing struggle for dignity and housing opportunity for all. Even though there has been much progress, the effort is not finished. The goals of the Act are not yet fully achieved. Our job is unfinished if a single case of housing discrimination occurs."
The Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination against anyone on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, family status or disability.
As Mr. Brown continued, 'These days discrimination can be far more subtle than in the past. No longer do you find many signs that expressly say 'No Blacks Need Apply' or 'No Kids Allowed' or 'No English, No Apartment'. Discrimination by residential housing providers now exists in more subtle ways and while they are few in number, some disreputable landlords or managers of housing who are sexual predators, prey upon vulnerable single women with limited financial means, some of whom are single parents caring for their minor children. Additionally, persons with disabilities are often shunned or ignored when seeking housing because the landlord must reasonably accommodate their needs.
"Our office works closely with HUD, fair housing advocacy groups in our communities, Legal Services of Alabama and the South Alabama Volunteer Lawyers Program, to identify potential cases of discrimination. We investigate and seek resolution through pre-litigation solutions, and if necessary, we bring civil actions to enforce the Fair Housing Act. It is nothing less than a full civil rights law which we enforce vigorously."
As Assistant U. S. Attorney Gary Alan Moore also said, "Preventing discrimination so that it never occurs is far better for people who need housing and also for those who own and operate the housing. Landlords are charged with the knowledge of the Fair Housing Act. Even so, we continually offer our time to explain the laws and to seek voluntary compliance. If we do not achieve compliance voluntarily, we work to bring the discriminating housing provider to justice and to provide fair housing experiences to residents of the Southern District of Alabama."
For anyone who suspects they may be the victim of housing discrimination, please contact the U. S. Department of Housing and Urban Development at 404.331.5140 or 1.800.440.8091 x 2493 or TTY 404.730.2654 and on-line at Complaints_office_04@hud.gov .
If you believe the discrimination affects a group of people, you may contact the U. S. Attorney's Office in Mobile directly by calling 251.441.5845 and ask to be connected to the Civil Rights Enforcement Unit.
You may also visit them on-line at http://www.justice.gov/usao/als/civil/cre.html to view some examples of the housing cases the U. S. Attorney's Office has litigated.
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