New website to fight housing discrimination 

  • A screenshot of the website. spearson—Screenshot

Monitor staff
Published: 4/28/2021 4:06:40 PM

New Hampshire Legal Assistance’s Fair Housing Project has launched a website to help victims of housing discrimination.

The site was made possible by a new grant from the Department of Housing and Urban Development and gives information on housing protections and available resources.

“We are here to help, and we can evaluate your case,” Lindsay Lincoln, co-director of the Fair Housing Project, said Wednesday.

Granite Staters who need legal assistance can also call 1-800-921-1115 to speak to a staff member devoted specifically to doing Fair Housing intakes.

State and federal laws prohibit discrimination in the rental, sale, or financing of housing based on someone’s race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status, disability, age, sexual orientation, marital status, or gender identity.

“In this tight market with the population growth in the state, the shortage of housing, coupled with a higher demand, the most at risk are those who are going to be hurt,” she said.

Issues range from refusal to rent because of an assistance animal to refusing reasonable modifications, such as a ramp, that allow people to fully use and enjoy their home. The most common housing discrimination complaints in the state are made by people with disabilities, the organization said.

New Hampshire Legal Assistance also continues to see a number of complaints from parents who face challenges with potential and existing landlords because children will be living in the home. Maria Eveleth, one of the co-directors, said this has been exacerbated because of remote classes.

“Most of the time with remote schooling we get complaints threatening eviction, because children are making noise,” she said.

The consequences of eviction could be especially devastating for those families, she said. If a family is forced to change addresses, their children could be dropped into a new school district.

“Discrimination in housing can have devastating consequences for individuals, for the community and for the entire nation,” she said. “Because in our society, housing is connected to so many important aspects of our life.”

NHLA has also seen a recent rise in complaints based on race and national origin.

Over the past five years, NHLA has seen 800 discrimination cases. Though resolutions vary from case to case, Lincoln said the organization can help file complaints with the Department of Housing and Urban development, mediate a discussion with landlords and stop unlawful evictions.

The Fair Housing Project also operates a testing program to investigate whether landlords treat people who have the same qualifications differently because of their protected class status.

“Discrimination nowadays is so difficult to the test,” Eveleth said. “A test becomes really important in the fight to uncover discrimination and housing.”

The program recruits and trains participants with a simulation of a housing transaction and then sends participants to pose as renters and collect data about the information given to them. NHLA then compares the information given to members between the various protected classes, such as race, sex, and national origin. The organization holds a training session each month and are currently looking for people to participate for 18 dollars an hour.

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