Erie County Proclaims April "Fair Housing Month"

April 9, 2013 Updated Apr 9, 2013 at 2:03 PM EDT

By WKBW News

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Erie County Proclaims April "Fair Housing Month"

April 9, 2013 Updated Apr 9, 2013 at 2:03 PM EDT

ERIE COUNTY, NY (WKBW Release) - Erie County has proclaimed April as "Fair Housing Month."

According to the Release:

Today, Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz was joined by members of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (“HUD”), elected officials, representatives of community development organizations, and members of civil rights organizations in proclaiming April 2013 as “Fair Housing Month” in Erie County. On April 11, 1968, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act into law, banning discrimination in the sale, rental, and financing of housing based on race, religion, national origin, sex, disability, or family status.

“Forty-five years ago this month, President Johnson was able to take a long-overdue step in fighting discrimination by signing the Civil Rights Act,” said Poloncarz. “Today we are here to stand together and let it be known that Erie County continues that fight, and we must be vigilant in stopping discrimination in all its forms. Through the Erie County Fair Housing partnership we will continue to move forward to build the sustainable and strong communities that make Erie County a great place to live.”

Maria Whyte, Commissioner of the Erie County Department of Environment & Planning (“DEP”), said, “Fair Housing Month provides us with an important opportunity to reflect on the very real challenges many individuals and families face when trying to find safe, affordable housing. Discrimination on the basis of race, creed, sexual orientation, source of income and more are unfortunate realities many people continue to face. I am proud of the work that the Erie County DEP and our community partners do every day to combat this reality.”

The Erie County Fair Housing program utilizes Housing Opportunities Made Equal (“HOME”) to provide assistance to victims of housing discrimination, assist in fair housing counseling and referrals, and also provide mobility assistance. As the only agency in Western New York providing comprehensive services for victims of housing discrimination, HOME also conducts fair housing training workshops for landlords and fair housing officers, conducts advocacy and educational outreach, and provides a wide range of related services.

“During the seven cataclysmic days that followed the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in April 1968, Congress passed the Fair Housing Act,” said Scott Gehl, Executive Director of Housing Opportunities Made Equal. “We gather each April both to give tribute to the heroism and tenacity of civil rights pioneers and to rededicate ourselves to the goal of fair housing, which is an antidote to so much of what separates us as a nation.”

As part of the event, proclamations from Erie County, the City of Buffalo, and the Towns of Amherst, Cheektowaga, Hamburg, and Tonawanda identifying April as “Fair Housing Month” were presented to Joan Spilman, Director of the Buffalo Field Office of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The proclamations underscore each municipality’s reaffirmation of Fair Housing Month, as well as their continuing efforts to stop discrimination.

“This year HUD’s theme is ‘Our Work Today Defines Our Tomorrow’, and the U.S. Department of housing and Urban Development is working hard to protect the rights of anyone who seeks decent housing by remaining vigilant, thoroughly investigating housing discrimination complaints, and even creating an APP for that,” said HUD Buffalo Field Office Director Joan Spilman. “Our goal is to define the standard of what every renter and buyer can expect when searching for a place they can call home and raise a family: a fair opportunity, free from discrimination, with a promise for a better future.”

“Buffalo’s great neighborhoods include people of every color and background who share a common goal of building an even stronger future for their families and living free from discrimination,” said Mayor Byron Brown. “I am pleased to help raise awareness about fair housing laws because as momentum continues to build in Buffalo, with more than $1.7 billion in new economic development activity underway, I believe that anyone who is able and willing to assume the responsibilities of owning a home should have the opportunity to pursue that dream.”