Interfaith Action Network Monthly
September 2019

Ready, Set, Action
The dog days of August have been anything but lazy here at the Fair Housing Justice Center. In addition to our usual investigative and outreach work, it’s been “all hands on deck” as we gear up for a coordinated response to a new assault on the Fair Housing Act. This is exactly the type of direct action the Interfaith Action Network was created for! Read below to learn more, and join us as we head into the Fall with a renewed commitment in our fight for civil rights.
Below are some educational resources we recommend for you to learn more about fair housing.

  • This month we are proud to recommend the New York Times 1619 Project as required reading for anyone interested in social justice advocacy. A 100-page collection of essays, images, poems, and stories, the Project is a massive journalistic undertaking. It observes the 400th anniversary of the beginning of American slavery, aiming to reframe our history with the acknowledgement that slavery touches every aspect of American life. Predictably, the project has inspired some backlash in the press and on social media, but as fair housing advocates we consider it required reading. The print version sold out quickly, the online version can be found HERE.

  • When examining the history of segregationist laws and policies in the US, direct comparisons are often made to apartheid South Africa. But a new book by UMass history professor Elizabeth A. Herbin-Triant paints a more complex picture. Threatening Property: Race, Class, and Campaigns to Legislate Jim Crow Neighborhoods examines how the tensions between different classes of southern whites actually limited the expansion of segregation laws into private property. White elites needed black workers nearby to work in their homes, farms, and factories. Middle class whites feared the possibility of these newly-successful African Americans moving to their neighborhoods and lowering property values. Threatening Property takes a deep dive into the ways this intra-racial class struggle influenced the spread of segregation in ways that still resonate today. Read more HERE.
Time to get out and advocate your community! Below are some advocacy updates and ways that you can get involved.

  • There’s an alarming new move by the Trump administration in their attempt to undo key provisions of the Fair Housing Act. It involves “disparate impact,” a legal distinction which states that practices and policies that result in discrimination are illegal, even if that discrimination wasn’t directly intentional. If a company - even with the best of intentions - adopts a policy that turns out to have an unequal outcome with a discriminatory effect, they can be sued under the current rule (which was reaffirmed by the Supreme Court in 2015.) Unintentional discrimination is still discrimination. But the department of Housing and Urban Development is proposing changes to the rule that would take away this important tool, effectively gutting an essential part of fair housing enforcement. With numerous new requirements for plaintiffs and raised standards for burden of proof, this new rule could be devastating to fair housing efforts, a huge backwards step in the fight against discrimination. (See media coverage HERE and HERE.)

  • The Fair Housing Justice Center is joining other members of the National Fair Housing Alliance in an organized effort to save disparate impact and beat back this assault on our civil rights. NFHA has created a website - – where visitors can learn about the issue and leave an official comment during the 60-day public comment period, ending October 18th. (See our official announcement HERE.) We’ve sounded the alarm in previous newsletters about federal attempts to alter certain civil rights protections. This one is different. For the first time, we are calling on our supporters to put the ACTION into our Interfaith Action Network. Please take a moment to leave an official comment, and spread the word on social media.
  • Back in July, we wrote about Move to Prosper, a bold experiment in Columbus OH in which struggling families are relocated to high-opportunity neighborhoods and given financial assistance along with emotional support and mentoring services. The early results have been remarkable, and similar programs have been cropping up around the country, including Creating Moves to Opportunity in Seattle, which was featured recently in the New York Times. These programs truly walk the walk when it comes to housing fairness, because “Where you live MATTERS.” 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:

  • Sometimes the beloved community are also actual neighbors. Last month, the FHJC had the pleasure of hosting a group of first year law students from CUNY School of Law, conveniently located just down the street from our offices in Long Island City. Associate Dean of Student Affairs (and FHJC Board Member) Rev. Dr. Yvette Wilson-Barnes along with a group of 18 students were treated to a presentation on the history of housing discrimination and the work of the FHJC, followed by a lively Q and A session. Based on their energy and enthusiasm, it seems the future of the struggle for civil rights is in good hands!
  • On Saturday, September 21st (1-4pm) the Social Justice Ministry of St. Francis de Sales Church will hold its second annual housing fair. The FHJC is proud to be participating for the second year in a row, joining various other agencies and businesses to provide information on fair housing, affordable housing, the NYC housing lottery, home sharing programs, credit counseling and repair, NYC homeownership, tenant rights, and other concerns. The church is located in Manhattan on East 96th Street where the "Upper East side meets East Harlem." Click HERE to visit their website. Hope to see you there!

  • 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
“With every ounce of our energy we must continue to rid this nation of the incubus of segregation. But we shall not in the process relinquish our privilege and our obligation to love. While abhorring segregation, we shall love the segregationist. This is the only way to create the beloved community.”

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