Interfaith Action Network Newsletter
October 2021

Ready, Set, Action
Autumnal greetings from the Fair Housing Justice Center.

Summer is over and fall has officially begun! With the start of a new season, there is a renewed energy in our work to make fair housing a living reality for all within our region. Here’s a look at some of what we’ve been up to, along with some educational resources, and other ideas for getting involved.
Educate
Below are some educational resources we recommend for you to learn more about fair housing.
Labeling anti-discrimination laws as “government overreach;” elevating the rights of white property owners above all other concerns; framing fair housing efforts as a “drive to destroy individual freedom.” These and other fear-mongering tactics are a part of the modern election playbook for many conservative politicians, but they were originally crafted by a California real estate broker more than half a century ago. In the new book “Freedom to Discriminate,” author Gene Slater uncovers the real estate industry’s definitive role in segregating America and shaping modern conservative thought. The book centers on the 1964 creation and passage of California’s Proposition 14, written by real estate professionals, which sought to permanently legalize housing segregation in the state constitution. Although the bill was eventually struck down, says Slater, its original overwhelming success among California voters planted the seeds for a great deal of modern political rhetoric. The book also demonstrates that housing segregation is not simply the “natural” outcome of homeowners’ desire to live among people like themselves. It had to be created and continually reinforced.
Although source of income discrimination has been prohibited in New York City since 2008, many New Yorkers who use vouchers to pay all or some of their rent continue to be illegally denied housing opportunities. In June, the FHJC and Ms. B, a woman using a CityFHEPS voucher to pay her rent, filed a source of income discrimination lawsuit in New York State Supreme Court against property owner 63 West Realty Corp and others. The lawsuit stems from an investigation conducted by FHJC after learning Ms. B had been denied an opportunity to apply for an apartment for herself and her child at the Lincoln Square Apartments. Read more about the case in our Opening Acts newsletter HERE.
Advocate
Time to get out and advocate in your community! Below are some advocacy updates and ways that you can get involved.
Anyone who suspects they are a victim of housing discrimination should immediately report it to the FHJC or other fair housing organization. But the burden of fighting discrimination shouldn’t fall solely on its direct victims, especially since so much discrimination goes undetected. Fortunately, there are others who ARE aware that it’s happening. The secretary in the real estate office who overhears agents making discriminatory comments, the condo owners who learn that their board is excluding certain populations, or the leasing agent at a retirement community who is told to screen out certain applicants. FHJC’s Social Media campaign “Together We Can End Discrimination” is aimed at enlisting allies like these in the fight to end housing discrimination in the New York region. If you are someone who knows that illegal discrimination is occurring, but are unsure of what to do about it, click HERE to report it (anonymously if you prefer) or just to learn more about the campaign. It’s your opportunity to be an upstander, not just a bystander, in the fight for open, inclusive, and accessible communities for EVERYONE.
Are you looking for more ways to advance fair housing in your community? Click HERE to check out the Advocacy section of our Fair Housing Toolkit to learn about the 30 Ways to Advance Fair Housing.
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:
The FHJC is a proud member of The Bridges Collaborative - a new, first-of-its-kind school integration initiative powered by The Century Foundation. From all across the country, leaders of 27 school districts, 17 charter schools and CMOs, and 13 housing organizations are coming together to share resources and information as we work to reignite a nationwide movement for integrated schools and diverse neighborhoods. This year, the Collaborative is sponsoring a student contest to shed light on the history of segregation and to propose potential solutions. K-12 students are invited to submit a creative project of their choosing (such as a written, audio, video or other media presentation) that explores the topic of segregation in the community where they live. Themes may include racial, economic, housing, or school segregation, or the intersection of any of these. Multiple cash prizes are available for various different age groups, and winners will have the opportunity to share their ideas with a network of leaders and policymakers. Submission deadline is Monday, November 1. Click HERE for more information.
Building the beloved community starts with increasing our sense of empathy – seeing ourselves in others and identifying with their struggles. And there’s no better way of increasing empathy than through the power of theater. In 2018, FHJC was awarded a grant by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to produce an original off-Broadway play inspired by real-life stories of housing discrimination. Rehearsals were about to begin in 2020 when production was brought to a halt by the COVID-19 pandemic. But after many delays, the project is finally seeing the light of day. “≤” [Less Than or Equal To] written by award-winning screenwriter/playwright/actor Justin Carter, is a collection of provocative monologues about housing discrimination. The play poses a question to audiences about one of the most shrouded, misunderstood, and intractable domestic issues in America: When it comes to shelter, do we continue to relegate certain populations to “less than” status, or take steps to ensure that all people enjoy full and “equal access to” housing? And what is the continuing impact of housing discrimination and residential segregation on individuals, communities, and our nation? “≤” sheds new light on personal stories of discrimination, fair housing history, and the fight for justice. Although COVID concerns forestalled the planned off-Broadway production, the complete theatrical script is being made available for free to theater groups, university and high school theater departments, faith-based organizations, fair housing groups, and other nonprofit organizations. Interested groups should contact FHJC Community Engagement Coordinator Craig Waletzko at cwaletzko@fairhousingjustice.org for more information. A filmed version of the play will also soon be available via FHJC’s website.
Every proposed reform, every moral deed, is to be tested by whether and to what extent it contributes to the realization of the Beloved Community"

Josiah Royce

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