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Ends & Beginnings

Posted on 27. Jun, 2012 by in Blog, Education Actions

It is with some sadness that I prepare for my departure from the staff of the Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center (GNOFHAC) this Friday.  It has been a great honor and pleasure to work with GNOFHAC for the past five years.  In those five years I have seen the organization grow in exciting ways.  When I started we had six people on staff, now we have thirteen.  We have expanded our enforcement, homeownership counseling, and education work and added a policy department.  As Education Coordinator I have had the pleasure of working with outreach staff, educators and advocates to organize five fair housing conferences, create workshops and curricula for young people about housing equity, institutionalize our training offerings through Fair Housing University, and realize one of GNOFHAC’s long term dreams by publishing a children’s book about housing discrimination.

I have also grown through my experience working with GNOFHAC.  I have learned that housing is at the center of the web of systems that impact communities, and that exclusionary housing policies and practices impact families for generations. I am deeply committed to the fair housing movement and I am interested in fair housing litigation as a tool for institutional change.  This fall I will be starting at Northeastern University School of Law, with the goal of supporting fair housing work as a civil rights attorney. Read More…

2011 Radio Spot- Homeownership Protection Project

Posted on 26. Jun, 2012 by in Audio

Listen to 2011 Radio Spot- Homeownership Protection Project

2012 Radio PSA- Familial Status

Posted on 26. Jun, 2012 by in Audio

Listen to 2012 Radio PSA- Familial Status

2012 Radio PSA – Race/Color

Posted on 26. Jun, 2012 by in Audio

Listen to 2012 Radio PSA – Race/Color

James Perry Congressional Testimony- July 2010

Posted on 26. Jun, 2012 by in Audio

Listen to James Perry Congressional Testimony- July 2010

2006 Radio PSA- Not Racist, White Only

Posted on 26. Jun, 2012 by in Audio

Listen to 2006 Radio PSA – Not Racist, White Only

James Perry Congressional Testimony- May 2008

Posted on 26. Jun, 2012 by in Audio

Listen to  James Perry Congressional Testimony- May 2008

 

Fair Housing Center Wins Prize in International Competition for Innovative Youth Programs

Posted on 14. Jun, 2012 by in 2012 News, Education News, News

The Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center (GNOFHAC) is pleased to announce that its “Equal Opportunity Game” youth workshop has been selected as a winner of the Ashoka Changemakers “Activating Empathy” competition.  The purpose of the “Activating Empathy” competition is to identify innovative projects that build empathy and leadership skills in young people.  GNOFHAC’s game and fair housing curriculum was one of 628 entries from 74 countries, and is among four projects selected to receive the “Mattel Prize for Play.”

The Equal Opportunity Game is an interactive board game for students in grades four through eight that demonstrates the impact of housing discrimination on a family’s access to resources and opportunity.  GNOFHAC staff developed the game in partnership with local educators in 2010, and have shared the curriculum with dozens of schools and advocacy organizations and hundreds of young people in Louisiana, as well as Mobile, AL, and Grand Rapids, MI.  The Equal Opportunity Game is part of a larger set of curricular materials GNOFHAC has developed for youth, including its children’s book The Fair Housing Five & the Haunted House, in an effort to provide information about fair housing to families and educate a new generation of leaders about civil rights and equity.  More information is available at www.fairhousingfive.org.

GNOFHAC Executive Director James Perry comments, “We are honored to have been selected as a winner of the ‘Activating Empathy’ competition.  We look forward to the opportunity to share our board game and curricula with more educators, advocates, and young people across the country.”

Download the press release here.

Tell Congress VAWA should protect all women!

Posted on 25. May, 2012 by in Actions, Participate (for sidebar)

As an organization that works to uphold civil rights in housing for all people, we are deeply disturbed by the recent passage in the U.S. House of Representatives of a version of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) that picks and chooses who is protected and who survives. VAWA provides legal protections for survivors of domestic or sexual violence and provides, among other things, access to emergency, transitional and permanent housing for survivors of domestic violence.

While the Violence Against Women Act has enjoyed easy bipartisan reauthorization every year since its passage, legislation just passed by the House (H.R. 4970) guts the law by removing protections for LGBT individualsundocumented, and Native survivors of gender based violence.  It removes confidentiality protections for undocumented immigrant women.   In contrast, the Senate version (S. 1925), includes these important provisions.

Domestic and sexual violence violate women’s rights to physical integrity and all too often, to life itself.  The House version of the VAWA reauthorization bill devalues all women and girls by furthering power dynamics that enable violence against gay, transgender, Native, and undocumented women in particular.

Call Congress right now at (202) 224-3121, and let them know you support final passage of legislation that protects all women.

The HUD LGBT Rule

Posted on 14. May, 2012 by in Education Media & Pubs, Enforcement Media & Pubs, Reports

In March, 2012, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) published a new rule that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity or marital status in HUD housing programs.  Read the full text of the rule here, or see GNOFHAC’s fact sheet and HUD’s fact sheet on the rule below.

HUD fact sheetDownload LGBT Rule Fact Sheet

On April 11, 2012 GNOFHAC held a community forum to discuss the new LGBT rule.  Below are some questions that arose during the event and their answers.

1.  Where does the definition of sexual orientation (and gender identity) come from? Some individuals felt that they do not identify as homosexual, bisexual or heterosexual, and that this definition could be seen as limiting.

The definition of sexual orientation came from a publication by the Office of Personnel Management entitled, ‘‘Addressing Sexual Orientation in Federal Civilian Employment: A Guide to Employee Rights.’’  The definition of gender identity came from the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act. During the comment period for the rule, a few commenters expressed concerns similar to those of the individuals at your presentation: that the definitions were too limiting and could exclude people. However, HUD felt it was best to use definitions already set in federal policy, and stated in the final rule that “HUD seeks to experience how (these) term(s) will work in practice before making changes to a definition currently established in federal policy.”
2.  It seems limiting that the rule is called the “LGBT rule” which de-emphasizes the marital status part of the rule.  It’s a missed opportunity to focus on the widespread impact of the marital status clause on LGBT and non-LGBT individuals. Could you explain why it is called the LGBT rule?

“LGBT Rule” is really just the shorthand nickname that HUD has taken to using, mainly because its full name is a mouthful. That being said, others have taken to calling it the “Equal Access” rule, to emphasize that the rule covers not just LGBT individuals, but unmarried heterosexual (or homosexual) couples. Regardless of its shorthand name, our education and outreach efforts around the rule strive to teach the public about the contents of the rule, which of course includes protections of sexual orientation, gender identity, and marital status.
3.  Will the Church challenge this rule, especially the provision that religious organizations that receive HUD funding must comply?

Religious institutions (and the public generally) had the opportunity to comment on the proposed rule’s content during the notice and comment period, which occurred from January to March 2011. Now that the rule has been made final, there is no administrative way to challenge the rule. If a religious organization (or any other organization) does not want to comply with the rule, they can make the choice to not pursue HUD funds. If the entity receives funds, they must comply with the rule.
4.  Do those at HUD foresee this redefinition of family leading to the expansion of the definition of family in other program areas, like education and employment (ex. Arizona school systems have an expanded definition of family because of the cultural diversity within the community.)

We at HUD can’t really speculate if other agencies, federal or state, will clarify or modify the definition of “family” that is used in their programs. However, as HUD is the first agency to initiate rulemaking to ensure that its core programs are open to all individuals regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, and marital status, we hope that our rule can serve as a model for other agencies when they consider how to ensure equal access to their programs.