According to Donita Gaulden, assistant director of Hinesville’s Department of Community Development, fair housing is not an option — it’s the law.
She said federal and state laws prohibit discrimination in housing. To help the public understand the laws, Gaulden and Sarah Ballance manned an information booth about fair housing at Thursday’s farmers market in Bradwell Park.
Ballance said the literature they distributed from the booth included a tri-fold put together by their department that explains the Fair Housing Act. The small brochure said the law prohibits discrimination by direct housing providers such as landlords or real-estate companies, as well as municipalities, lending institutions and homeowner’s insurance companies.
The tri-fold also said that refusing to rent or sell housing based on race, color, religion, sex, handicap, family status or national origin is against the law. Unlawful housing practices can include intentionally delaying the processing of an application, exclusive zoning, steering members of racial or ethnic groups toward or away from buildings or subdivisions occupied by a particular race or ethnic group, refusing to provide financing and setting different terms or conditions such as sales price, interest rate or deposit.
It’s also unlawful to make false statements about availability of housing, deny brokerage services, coerce or interfere in order to deprive someone from a renting or buying housing or retaliate against someone for filing a fair housing complaint, the brochure said. It is not unlawful to be denied housing based on low income, poor credit history or lack of steady employment.
Gaulden said her office provides information only about fair housing and doesn’t take complaints from residents who believe they’ve been denied their rights. She said those wanting to complain about mistreatment can contact JC Vision and Associates Inc. on 135 E. M.L. King Jr. Drive, suite G, in Hinesville; the Georgia Commission of Equal Opportunity, 2 M.L. King Jr. Drive SE in Atlanta; or the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, 40 Marietta St. in Atlanta.
“Our brochure on fair housing can be found in various locations around the city, and we post information on the city’s website and social media,” Gaulden said. “We’re also planning to put together an open forum in October. This workshop will include credit counselors and fair-housing counselors.”
For more information about fair housing, call the Hinesville Community Development Department at 876-3164. To file a fair-housing complaint, call JC Vision and Associates at 877-4243.