The Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center was established in the summer of 1995 to eradicate housing discrimination throughout the greater New Orleans area. Since its inception, GNOFHAC has built an impressive record of advocating for the fair housing rights of New Orleans consumers through enforcement, education, and homeownership protection.
ENFORCEMENT: GNOFHAC enforcement staff investigates complaints of discrimination and conducts regular audits of the greater New Orleans housing market in order to understand discriminatory trends and advocate against them. Since Katrina, GNOFHAC has produced three systemic audits of housing discrimination based on race, disability, and source of income. The organization regularly files enforcement actions against individuals and entities, including government entities, who have been caught discriminating. GNOFHAC has filed over 25 lawsuits in state and federal court and assisted complainants in filing over 175 administrative complaints. GNOFHAC has assisted in the recovery of over $1, 350,000 in monetary relief as a result of its enforcement actions. Since Katrina, GNOFHAC has also led the way in filing high-impact, innovative litigation to ensure that all former residents of New Orleans who want to return home are able to do so. For example, GNOFHAC’s multi-year litigation against St. Bernard Parish has yielded a consent decree and four contempt of court findings from a federal judge that have required Parish officials to rescind exclusionary ordinances and grant building permits to affordable housing developers. GNOFHAC’s lawsuit over the racially discriminatory Road Home program resulted in a $60 million settlement that will benefit several thousand homeowners. Homeowners in many African American neighborhoods whose awards were based on pre-storm value rather than cost of repair will be eligible for additional compensation and may be able to finally repair their houses with and return home. GNOFHAC has also led the way in holding local governments accountable to their obligation to Affirmatively Further Fair Housing (AFFH).
EDUCATION: GNOFHAC education and outreach staff teach over a thousand people every year about their fair housing rights and obligations through first time homebuyer classes, the annual Fit For a King conference, and talks with students, neighborhood associations, local officials, housing providers, and volunteers. In addition, the organization has pursued an aggressive advocacy agenda based on the findings of fair housing investigations and larger rebuilding justice issues in the wake of Gulf Coast disasters. GNOFHAC Executive Director James Perry has testified before Congress eight times about fair housing and Gulf Coast reconstruction and other GNOFHAC staff regularly testify before local and state government bodies. The Center has conducted numerous statewide and local media campaigns to inform consumers and housing professionals of their fair housing rights and responsibilities. In Fall 2010, GNOFHAC published
The Fair Housing Five and the Haunted House, a children’s book designed to initiate conversations between parents, caregivers, teachers and children about housing discrimination, systemic inequality, and the important role that we all have in ending both. Staff has also designed workshops and curriculum to go with the book in collaboration with children, parents, educators, and other community stakeholders.
HOMEOWNERSHIP PROTECTION: In April 2006, GNOFHAC launched the Hurricane Relief Project, since renamed the Homeownership Protection Project (HOP), in collaboration with the National Fair Housing Alliance (NFHA). HOP was designed to provide assistance to homeowners affected by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Since it inception, the HOP staff has worked to protect homeownership and help residents recover and rebuild in hurricane-impacted areas of South Louisiana and Mississippi by providing counseling, guidance, and technical assistance with recovery programs and rebuilding concerns. In 2007, GNOFHAC became a HUD-certified housing counseling agency. HOP efforts have saved hundreds of homes from foreclosure, and helped many more receive fair compensation from insurance companies and government recovery programs for hurricane losses.
In the face of economic recession, the work of HOP has now shifted primarily to foreclosure prevention.