Fair Housing Center of West Michigan

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Become a Volunteer

The Fair Housing Center relies on volunteers in both education and advocacy programming.  Volunteering can mean a one time commitment, for a specific event, or being available to be called upon as needs for volunteers arise.  We will work with you to find a volunteer opportunity that will work with your schedule.  We know your time is valuable and we appreciate your willingness to give some of that time to us.  We couldn't do our work without our volunteers.  For more information about any of the volunteer opportunities listed below, please contact the Fair Housing Center at (616) 451-2980 or via email at contact-us@fhcwm.org

Become a Tester

Our housing tester program is an interesting way to learn about the community and get first hand experience with fair housing.  Testers play the role of a home seeker and participate in apartment showings, open houses, and other experiences to help us monitor fair housing practices.  Testers are of vital importance to the advocacy and research programs of the Fair Housing Center.  Without a vast and diverse pool of volunteer testers, the Fair Housing Center would be drastically limited in our ability to conduct research and investigate claims of illegal discrimination.

What is a Tester?

As a tester, you play the role of a home seeker to observe and document the ordinary business practices of housing providers, lenders, insurance companies, and others. As a tester, you may be asked to pose as a person who is interested in renting an apartment, buying a home, applying for financing to purchase housing, inquiring about property insurance for a home, or using other types of housing services.  Testers must be at least 18 years old, objective, careful observers, accurate reporters, and truthful and credible witnesses.  View the Qualifications for Testers for more information on what characteristics are important in a tester. Testers are paid a small stipend.

What is Testing?

Testing is an investigative tool used to gather evidence.  Generally, fair housing testing refers to the use of individuals who, without any bona fide intent to rent or purchase a home, apartment, or other dwelling, pose as prospective renters, owners or purchasers of real estate for the purpose of gathering information.  This information may indicate whether a housing provider is complying with fair housing laws. For example, a "paired" test conducted to investigate possible discrimination on the basis of race in the rental housing market might begin by selecting two trained testers.  The testers are assigned a set of personal, financial, and home seeking characteristics so that they are closely matched and the primary difference between them is their race. The testers receive instructions to separately visit the same apartment building and inquire about the same type of apartment. Upon completing visits to the apartment building, each tester fills out a report form and provides a factual account of his or her test experience. Reviewing and comparing the accounts of these test experiences may make it possible to identify and document any differences in treatment and/or the existence of policies or practices that violate fair housing laws.

In other words, testers simulate ordinary housing transactions for the purpose of obtaining credible and objective information about housing practices.  Testing can be used to investigate all types of housing and housing-related services. Testing evidence often forms the basis for successful resolution of a housing discrimination complaint.

Why Testing?

Testing is one way to determine whether all housing consumers are being afforded the same information, service, treatment, and access without regard to the characteristics protected by fair housing laws. The testing process has been consistently supported by federal courts as a legitimate and necessary method to identify practices of unlawful housing discrimination. In West Michigan, successful complaints filed by claimants have been based upon evidence obtained by Fair Housing Center testers.  In the context of fair housing enforcement, testing is an essential investigative tool.

How Do I Become a Tester?

If you are interested in taking on the challenging and rewarding role of a tester, register to attend an upcoming training session over Zoom.  Our comprehensive tester training sessions are held on a regular basis.

To register for a tester training, select a date and time below that works for your schedule. For more information about testing, contact Sarah Brandt at (616) 451-2980 or by email.

Become an Event Volunteer

The Fair Housing Center utilizes volunteers during our multiple events throughout the year.  Volunteers assist with set-up and clean-up, registration, as well as greeting and directing attendees.  If you are interested in volunteering to assist with an Upcoming Event, please contact Liz Keegan at (616) 451-2980 or contact-us@fhcwm.org.

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20 Hall Street SE
Grand Rapids, MI 49507

Phone: 616-451-2980
Fax: 616-451-2657

Se habla español.