Those seeking new homes to rent or buy are encouraged to come to the city’s Fair Housing Symposium this weekend.
Jacksonville’s Human Rights Commission is hosting the event and its executive director Charlene Taylor Hill said the Saturday morning workshops will focus on the Fair Housing Act adopted 50 years ago this week.
“What we want them to take away from it is a better knowledge of their rights and how they should be treated when they’re seeking an apartment, what kinds of questions may not be appropriate for a landlord or a property manager to ask,” she said.
Or, she said, if a mortgage lender were to ask questions that don’t seem quite appropriate.
The Fair Housing Act portion of the Civil Right Act prevents discrimination in housing based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, familial status or disability.
Saturday’s Fair Housing Symposium will also offer workshops about establishing and maintaining good credit and a panel discussion with housing experts who can answer questions about resolving landlord-tenant issues, selecting a realtor and requesting reasonable accommodations.
Taylor Hill said a common form of housing discrimination she sees is against people with disabilities, which often occurs after the person is living at a property. Examples include needing a handicap parking spot close to the home or needing adjustments to the property.
“Or I may need an assistance animal or an emotional support animal and the property may have a no-pets policy, yet they want to charge the individual a normal pet fee which is a violation of the Fair Housing Act,” Taylor Hill said.
The Fair Housing Act was signed into effect just a week after Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated. He had been working to get the law passed, Taylor Hill said.
“So we’re celebrating not only the importance of the Fair Housing Act but still looking at the work that has to be done 50 years later,” she said.
The event runs from 9 a.m. - 1 p.m. Saturday at the library downtown. It’s free but registration is required either online or by phone (904) 630-4911.
Child care services will be provided for kids ages 4-12.
Reporter Lindsey Kilbride can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, 904-358-6359 or on Twitter at @lindskilbride.