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Housing providers learn about anti-discrimination protections

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Delaware Public Media
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The Delaware Division of Human Relations held a public fair housing workshop Tuesday.

 

Attendees at the fair housing workshop in New Castle County included leasing agents, property managers, homeowners’ association representatives, and others considered “housing providers.”

The training focused on protected classes under the federal Fair Housing Act, state-level protections and HUD guidances— and asked providers to work through real-life discrimination scenarios Division investigators have encountered.

Dennis Thomson is on the architectural review board for his Homeowners’ Association. He went to the training as part of a conciliation agreement after the association denied a resident’s request to build a ramp.

“We were basing it all based on our own declaration restrictions and the county code,” he said. “And as it turns out, the man’s wife was disabled. But we didn’t know that.”

Thomson says Tuesday’s training will help his association play a more proactive role in promoting fair housing.

“Everybody is now going to be a bit more knowledgeable about what this is all about,” he said. “We know now better what questions we’re going to ask.”

Division investigator Inez Hungria says one of the most effective aspects of holding trainings is meeting housing providers and residents in person.

“I love the relationships it builds,” she said. “So now that he was part of a complaint process, but now he knows who we are. So if something else comes up, he doesn’t have to wait for a complaint to be filed, he can call and say, you know, Inez, I have a scenario with an owner, what can we do?”

Hungria adds that the most common area of confusion for housing providers is protections for individuals with disabilities.

“When we deal with persons with disability, when we deal with reasonable accommodation and modification, because it’s case by case, so it’s not applied uniformly to everyone,” she said.

Officials say the Division will hold public fair housing trainings quarterly. The Division also provides training to housing providers on request and will consult for free with individuals who contact the office.

 

Sophia Schmidt is a Delaware native. She comes to Delaware Public Media from NPR’s Weekend Edition in Washington, DC, where she produced arts, politics, science and culture interviews. She previously wrote about education and environment for The Berkshire Eagle in Pittsfield, MA. She graduated from Williams College, where she studied environmental policy and biology, and covered environmental events and local renewable energy for the college paper.