On October 20th Housing Commissioner Shaun Donovan welcomed over one hundred participants to a free Fair Housing Symposium sponsored by the Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) and held at Medger Evers College in Brooklyn. The Fair Housing Symposium was organized to assist community service providers working with the newest New Yorkers to effectively fight discrimination in housing. The Symposium provided an overview of fair housing laws; a panel discussion on the barriers faced by and strategies to combat housing discrimination; and government efforts to curb housing discrimination.
HPD Commissioner Donovan said, "The Bloomberg Administration is committed to promoting equality of opportunity and access to housing for all New Yorkers. Discrimination in housing on the basis of someone's race or nationality is unacceptable and illegal. HPD conducts outreach and provides information and resources in several languages. No New Yorker should be hindered in accessing the services they need or help in finding affordable housing because of cultural or language barriers."
For the past 20 years HPD's Office of Community Partnerships has managed a fair housing program that employs city workers and community based organizations to advance fair housing and equal access for all New Yorkers. The program educates the public about housing laws, curbs discrimination in housing, promotes housing choice by providing information regarding upcoming housing for rent or sale, and prevents unnecessary evictions by offering mediation services in local housing courts. Between January of 2002 and June 2005, the program sponsored over 460 workshops; provided one to one counseling on housing concerns to almost 45,000 people; helped to mediate over 19,000 disputes between landlords and tenants in housing court and referred some 270 possible complaints of discrimination to the City's Commission on Human Rights.
If tenants believe they are being subject to discriminatory treatment, they should contact the City Commission on Human Rights by dialing 311. They should also feel free to discuss their situation with HPD's Fair Housing Counselors.
Cosponsors of the event were Fair Justice Center of HELP USA, Medgar Evers Center of Law and Social Justice, the NYC Commission on Human Rights and the Mayor's Office of Immigrant Affairs.
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The Department of Housing Preservation and Development's (HPD) mission is to promote the affordability, availability, and quality of housing across the city. As the nation's largest municipal housing agency, HPD works with private, public and community partners to strengthen neighborhoods and enable more New Yorkers to become homeowners or to rent well-maintained, affordable housing.