About the Fair Housing Center
The Fair Housing Center of West Michigan is a private, non-profit fair housing organization committed to providing comprehensive fair housing services, including education, outreach, research, advocacy and enforcement. The Fair Housing Center is the front door to housing choice, ensuring that everyone in our community has equal opportunity to choose housing that’s right for them. Through education, research and advocacy, we prevent housing discrimination, remove barriers that allow it to persist, and restore housing choice when discrimination happens. Learn more about our services.
Who We Serve
We work with tenants, homeowners, and home seekers as well as professionals, companies, and social service agencies related to housing. These include landlords, realtors, lending institutions, insurance agents, and more.
Our Service Area
We currently serve 12 counties in western Michigan: Allegan, Grand Traverse, Ionia, Isabella, Kent, Mecosta, Montcalm, Muskegon, Newaygo, Oceana, Osceola and Ottawa.
Our mission is to prevent and eliminate illegal housing discrimination, to ensure equal housing opportunity, and to promote inclusive communities. We achieve our objective through education, outreach, research, advocacy, and enforcement.
Our vision is that each individual in West Michigan is treated with respect in their housing choices and is not illegally hindered or prevented from living in any dwelling. We are a visible, leading force for ensuring those rights.
From its beginning, the Fair Housing Center has been concerned with education and outreach as well as enforcement of the federal, state and local laws. The story of the Center’s origin is rather unique. Like most metropolitan areas in the 1970’s, Grand Rapids experienced a tremendous amount of “white flight” to the suburbs. As a result, the racial and ethnic composition of many neighborhoods and subsequently, the schools changed. The Grand Rapids Public Schools (GRPS) recognized the need to integrate their schools. When deciding on a strategy, they concluded that instead of using busing to accomplish this end which was being tried without much success in other communities, the GRPS would focus on integrating the neighborhoods thereby integrating the schools.
A committee was formed with representatives from GRPS, Grand Rapids Junior College, Southeast End Neighborhood Association, and the Cities of Grand Rapids and Kentwood. In 1979, the group visited the Fair Housing Center in Detroit. They met with the Board, Executive Director and staff, borrowed and adapted their by-laws and method of operations and began work to set up a similar center in Grand Rapids. Using $1,500 “seed money” from the Dyer–Ives Foundation, the Fair Housing Center of Greater Grand Rapids, was incorporated on September 4, 1980 to: “support and encourage equal opportunities in the Greater Grand Rapids area. In this connection, the Center will provide assistance to individuals pursuing legal rights and remedies related to fair housing, offer housing assistance and counseling, provide community education, promote community involvement, perform research in the area of housing, and promote good working relations with other housing agencies.” In its first year of existence, the Center conducted 130 tests at 105 locations and investigated 21 complaints from area homeseekers. In 2006, the Center merged with the Lakeshore Fair Housing Center in Holland, MI at their request. The Center changed its name to the Fair Housing Center of West Michigan to reflect its increased service area.