There are many things to consider when finding a home. Discrimination isn’t one of them.
In May 2017, The ERC launched its Fair Housing Advice Column! We know many residents in the Washington, DC metro area have unique experiences in their search for safe, affordable housing. Based on our 30 plus years of detecting discrimination, we also know that your search might leave you with questions and concerns about your rights and responsibilities.
As the only full service fair housing center in Greater Washington providing direct services and advocacy to residents, we are here to lend our expertise of local fair housing laws and protections, and to ensure your search for a home is a FAIR one.
We want to hear from you! Please reach out to us with your questions, scenarios and inquiries. We will be publishing some of your entries (anonymously) with responses from our expert fair housing staff.
For immediate information on discrimination and protected classes in the Greater Washington area, please visit our Fair Housing Page. Additionally, if you feel you have experienced or witnessed housing discrimination and would like to report it, please submit a lead here.
I’ve been seeing a lot of reports about hate-based violence happening in neighborhoods nationwide in the last couple of months. At the beginning of this year, someone painted the n-word on the house of an interracial couple in Connecticut. And just a couple months ago, a Muslim family’s home was vandalized and robbed in Fairfax County, VA. In addition to the theft, their Quran was ripped up and “F**k Muslims” was written on their wall. With the rise in hatred and violence towards so many communities, I feel concerned and confused about how I should respond if one day I see this happen in my neighborhood or, even worse, if it happens to me. What could I do?
Unsettled and Concerned Neighbor
Hi Unsettled and Concerned Neighbor,
I understand the feelings of unease you’re expressing. We should always be able to feel safe in our homes. This is why hate-based incidents in one’s home can be so traumatic and fear-inducing. They take away the one place that is always supposed to be safe for us.
I hope that you don’t ever experience any such incidents in your own neighborhood. If you do find you or one of your neighbors to be the victim of hate violence, there are several options open to you:
First, any hate-based crimes can be reported to police, if the victim feels comfortable doing so. In both of the examples you mentioned, the victims contacted police, and police launched investigations into the incidents. However, we recognize that many marginalized communities fear and distrust police, so calling 911 may not be the best option for everyone.
You can also call 1-844-9-NO-HATE or fill out a form online to report the incident to Communities Against Hate, a national coalition dedicated to documenting and responding to hate violence. They can refer you to resources available in your local community.
Finally, if the hate-based incident occurs at your home, it’s possible that it might be a violation under the federal Fair Housing Act or local fair housing laws. You can call the Equal Rights Center at 202-234-3062 to talk to us about what happened. The federal Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination, including harassment, in housing based on a person’s race, color, national origin, religion, sex, disability, and familial status (the presence of children under 18 years of age in the household). Many states and local laws also prohibit discrimination in housing based on additional protected classes. If you’re not sure whether or not what happened could constitute housing discrimination, we can help you figure it out.
Have a question about housing discrimination in the Washington DC metro? Want to a report a potential instance of housing discrimination? Contact Susie by calling 202-234-3062.