Every five years when counties and cities come up with their fair housing plans, they have to demonstrate that they are “affirmatively furthering fair housing.” It’s not enough to simply discourage discrimination — since discrimination in housing matters is illegal under the 1968 Fair Housing Act.
Recently, Washington County got the results of fair housing audits conducted by the Fair Housing Council of Oregon. Earlier this year, Portland got similar results. Those tests were meant to show if discrimination is taking place. Moloy Good, the executive director of the Fair Housing Council, says in no uncertain terms: it is. Portland has since unveiled a new housing plan that was hailed as the city’s first comprehensive plan to address fair housing. Washington County is in the process of coming up with its plan and will be coordinating its efforts with the city of Beaverton.
Moloy Good says the way discrimination manifests has changed a lot since the Fair Housing Act first passed. Back then, he says, you’d find signs that would actually state that blacks or Mexicans were not welcome. Now, if people experience discrimination it will often take the form of being quoted higher rent or deposit prices or being told that an apartment is not available. But he says many of the complaints his office receives are centered around disabilities. Sometimes all it takes to resolve those matters is a little education. A manager that doesn’t know that the “no pets” policy for instance, doesn’t apply to assistance animals like seeing-eye dogs. But he says for all kinds of discrimination, education and enforcement must go hand-in-hand.
Have you experienced discrimination trying to buy or rent an apartment or house? What did you do about it? Are you a property manager? How do you ensure that you’re being fair as a landlord? How far should a city or county go to ensure that all its residents have access to fair housing?
- Moloy Good: Executive director of the Fair Housing Council of Oregon
- Jennie Proctor: Community development manager for Washington County
- Daniel Ledezma: Housing policy director for commissioner Nick Fish