What is fair housing?

Fair housing is more than just a mix of complex jargon, laws, polices and regulations. Equal access to housing of one’s choice represents something much greater. Fair housing means being able to send children to good schools. It means access to transportation and employment opportunity. It means being able to take advantage of opportunities in a safe community.

The 12th Annual D.C. Fair Housing Symposium will move beyond experts talking to experts in an effort to build awareness and encourage action on fair housing issues often ignored or misunderstood. This year, the day-long symposium aims to attract activists and others who work with communities targeted for discrimination but currently do not incorporate fair housing advocacy into their work. The conference will provide attendees with a better understanding of housing discrimination, and how it affects the lives of the people they serve.

Understanding fair housing and how housing discrimination affects individuals is especially important in today’s environment. The District is rapidly changing. Over the past decade, the population has soared past 600,000 for the first time in the city’s history. The racial makeup of the District has changed dramatically, with an influx of white residents where it had been predominantly African American.  The cost of living is among the highest in the nation. Real estate developers and businesses have gravitated into historically low-income neighborhoods, impacting the affordability and local culture. Demographics are shifting quickly.

These changes have contributed to the District boasting the second-highest rental housing prices in the country. The underside to this shift is that low and middle income residents have been forced to vacate once affordable neighborhoods for cheaper housing options in fewer and more remote corners of the city. On top of this, the D.C. Housing Authority has closed the waiting list for new applicants for housing choice vouchers, effective April 12. Now, more than ever, individuals need to be aware of their right to fair housing. The Fair Housing Symposium offers a platform for those who face discrimination in housing, and those seeking to make a difference in the lives of community members and individuals who have a right to safe and affordable housing.

The ERC would like to give special thanks to our partners at the D.C. Office of Human Rights and the D.C. Department of Housing and Community Development for helping to bring this event together!

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