Interfaith Action Network Monthly
June 2019

Ready, Set, Action
June is busting out all over!

And as things heat up outside, we’ve been turning up the heat and light on the problem of housing segregation. The struggle is ongoing, with new concerns and setbacks sharing the headlines with triumphs and celebrations. But together we can make a difference in the fight for true housing fairness in our region and across the country.

Here's a look at the latest news items, events and ideas for engaging with this important work.
Below are some educational resources we recommend for you to learn more about fair housing.

  • This month’s book recommendation is “The Lines Between Us: Two Families and a Quest to Cross Baltimore’s Racial Divide” by duPont Award-winning journalist Lawrence Lanahan. It is a fresh examination of the region’s deeply entrenched segregation told through the stories of two residents who are both planning to move within the region. Nicole Smith, a black woman from a poor city neighborhood contemplates relocating to a prosperous suburb, while white suburbanite Mark Lange considers moving to West Baltimore. The book is an eye-opening account of how a city creates different exclusive spaces - for black and white, rich and poor - and invites each of us to understand just what we all have at stake. Learn more about this remarkable new book HERE.

  • Two new rule changes proposed by HUD have caught our attention. The first would roll back Obama-era protections for transgender homeless people by allowing taxpayer-funded shelter providers to bar transgender people from admission. This proposed change would permit homeless shelters to set new policies for admission to single-sex facilities based on state and local laws. In areas of the country with no specific legal protections for trans people, this would effectively overturn the 2012 Equal Access Rule which bans gender-identity-based discrimination in all federally-funded housing facilities. Ironically, HUD announced the proposed changes one day after HUD secretary Ben Carson, under intense questioning from the House Financial Services Committee, assured congress that he was not anticipating any changes to the Equal Access Rule. Learn more about HUD’s proposal, and the strong reaction to it, HERE.

  • The second proposed change concerns immigration status for families receiving federal housing aid. On May 10th, HUD published plans to cut off housing subsidies for “mixed” households (citizens and/or legal residents living with one or more undocumented family members.) HUD itself admits the impact could be devastating, affecting 108,000 people, including 55,000 children. The move prompted an angry response from 13 members of the NYC congressional delegation who immediately wrote to Secretary Ben Carson opposing the new rule. Read more about the proposed change and its specific effects on NYC HERE. Public comments on the proposal are open until July 9, 2019.

  • Here at the Fair Housing Justice Center (FHJC), we announced the filing of a new federal lawsuit targeting a major NYC-based developer for failing to comply with accessibility standards for design and construction of multifamily housing. One of the defendants in the case settled a similar lawsuit in 2016, demonstrating again the need for ongoing testing and enforcement of fair housing laws. Learn more about the suit HERE. Because accessible housing is a civil right!

  • On a happier note for housing equality, last month the US House of Representatives passed the Equality Act of 2019, which would extend civil rights to LGBTQ people in a broad range of areas, including housing. The bill passed by a vote of 236 to 173, with eight Republicans joining their Democratic colleagues in voting for the bill. Supporters, including several presidential candidates, celebrated the Act’s passage, though a similar bill faces an uphill battle in the Senate. Read more about the bill HERE.
Time to get out and advocate your community! Below are some advocacy updates and ways that you can get involved.

  • Are you a fair housing or civil rights advocate? Want to learn more about the latest change in New York’s fair housing laws? For several months, we’ve been sharing updates on the work of the #BanIncomeBias Coalition, culminating in the April passage of the Lawful Source of Income Anti-Discrimination Act of 2019. The act makes it illegal for housing providers in New York state to discriminate against prospective tenants who use housing vouchers or rental subsidies. The FHJC and CUNY School of Law are co-sponsoring a seminar to discuss enforcement of the new law and the unique issues that arise from it. This free event takes place Wednesday June 19th at CUNY Law School in Long Island City. Registration is required. Learn more HERE.

Building the Beloved Community
Want to get involved in the Building the Beloved Community interfaith initiative in some other way? Below are some updates from our interfaith initiative:

  • Friends and Supporters of the FHJC enjoyed an extra special evening in Astoria last month when Sonbobs Coffeehouse hosted a Haitian Supper Fundraiser. (But with all the joy and fellowship in the room, we prefer the term “Friendraiser!”) Attendees had a rare opportunity to affirm their commitment to housing fairness while enjoying some of the best Caribbean cuisine in the city. Special thanks to board members Lisa Darden, Allison Brown, and Sonnie Brown (Sonbobs owner) for arranging the event, and to Chef Kay for providing the exquisite meal. Stay tuned for upcoming events and other ways to advance fair housing in your community.

  • In the coming months, we will resume our training for representatives of diverse faith communities to become leaders and educators who will help us achieve our mission. Fair Housing Leaders will attend an in depth training where they will develop a fluency in fair housing issues and in how to use the FHJC’s Fair Housing Toolkit, among other resources, to educate and engage their community. If you are interested in attending a future leadership training and volunteering to become a Fair Housing Leader you can email the FHJC’s Community Engagement Coordinator Craig Waletzko at [email protected].

"Only the narrow minded discriminate against the other by saying: this one is my own; the other is a stranger. For those who live contemplatively the entire world constitutes but one family"

- Mopanishad VI 72.

Fair Housing Justice Center | 30-30 Northern Blvd., Suite 302, Long Island City, NY 11101
| (212) 400 - 8201 | (212) 400 - 8203 |