Advocacy & Enforcement
Protecting housing choice
Our advocacy and enforcement programs serve to assist individuals in reporting housing discrimination; investigate, mediate and resolve allegations of housing discrimination; remove systemic barriers to housing choice; and ensure the protection of fair housing choice. The goal of advocacy and enforcement is to challenge, eradicate and remediate discriminatory policies and practices, and to provide resources and tools to ensure that discrimination does not persist. To that end, we provide:
- Assessment of fair housing inquiries, including referrals to relevant entities for issues unrelated to fair housing, as appropriate and available
- Fair housing complaint intake, including receipt of anonymous allegations and reports of discrimination
- Fair housing case development including testing, research and analysis
- Mediation and resolution of fair housing allegations
- Referral to and assistance with the administrative fair housing complaint processes of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Michigan Department of Civil Rights, and/or local governments
- Assistance in drafting, submitting and negotiating requests for reasonable accommodations and modifications
- Attendance at meetings and gatherings to represent and promote fair housing expertise and best practices
- Review of advertising and marketing materials, policies and other documents to identify potential fair housing issues and offer corrective solutions
How it works
The Center continues to focus on proactive, systemic approaches to fair housing and equal opportunity. To that end, we frequently receive and fulfill requests to attend meetings and gatherings of housing providers, non-profit professionals, government officials and lawmakers, community agencies, and others in order to provide fair housing expertise and bring a fair housing perspective to each conversation. We gladly welcome the opportunity to meet with you and discuss how fair housing fits into the work that you do, or to review your current marketing materials and documents with a fair housing lens. We remain committed to advocacy and education in order to promote and sustain fair housing throughout the community.
Unfortunately, advocacy and education alone have not been enough to end housing discrimination, and enforcement activities continue to serve as the greatest tool to ensure compliance with fair housing laws and equal housing opportunity. Among the enforcement-oriented activities, our top priority is to assist tenants, homebuyers and other home seekers in the investigation and resolution of complaints of illegal housing discriminations through the use of comparison testing, cooperation with enforcement agencies and litigation. Since the year 2000, we have investigated and resolved more than 2,000 complaints of housing discrimination in more than 100 cities throughout west Michigan. These included more than 675 allegations of familial-based discrimination and almost 700 allegations of race-based discrimination. The Center works with the claimants to help them pursue their cases administratively and legally.
Fair housing groups are essentially the only groups within the country with the capacity to conduct testing in response to allegations of housing discrimination. In fact, private fair housing organizations process almost 70 percent of the nation’s fair housing complaints. In the last 10 years, we have conducted more than 4,000 fair housing tests involving people or property in more than 85 cities throughout West Michigan. On average, 37% of conclusive tests revealed evidence of real or potential violations of federal, state, and/or local fair housing laws. Familial status and race prove to be the most common sources of potential housing discrimination detected in our testing, making up over 80% of evidence-revealing tests. Information obtained is often used as evidence to support independent complaint actions with appropriate authorities.
The Center maintains a pool of over 150 testers and dedicated volunteers who assist in fair housing enforcement activities. Click here to learn more about becoming a tester.