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Fair Housing Still A Hot Topic for Eastern Connecticut

Fair Housing Center Director Erin Kemple shares a story that demonstrates the importance of staying vigilant about fair housing.

By Tanya Svoboda

Even though the Fair Housing Act was passed in 1968, the issues it was created to solve still remain relevant to many homeowners today. In an open meeting with local REALTORS® and community members, Connecticut Fair Housing Center Director Erin Kemple shared a story that demonstrated just how important staying vigilant about fair housing is.

Kemple explained that their organization regularly tests REALTORS® across Connecticut to make sure that they are complying with fair housing laws. In a three-year Fair Housing Initiative Program that ended in 2015 the center sent 17 African-Americans, all of whom were pre-qualified with good credit, into a Connecticut real estate agency to pose as potential homeowners.

Despite their good standing, the African-Americans were all steered away from nice, predominantly white neighborhoods. However, when 20 Caucasian people with poor credit went in they were directed towards the same homes the agency evaded showing to the African-American group.

Kemple commented, “It’s not about money, it’s not about credit scores, it’s about the color of their skin.”

The meeting where Kemple shared her story was hosted by The Eastern Connecticut Association of REALTORS® (ECAR). Also in attendance as speakers were, Norwich NAACP President Dianne Daniels, Norwich Economic Development Supervisor Kathy Crees, Real Estate Eviction Attorney Yona Gregory, and Connecticut Property Owners Alliance President Bob DeCosmo. All of whom, the ECAR felt could help local REALTORS® and community members understand why this issue remains important today.

In addition to sharing the controversial test case, the panel of speakers talked about other ways REALTORS® and homeowners could be on the lookout for discriminatory practices.

ECAR is committed to maintaining an ongoing, proactive relationship with the NAACP, Connecticut Fair Housing Center and other organizations who partner on the issue of fair housing. Mat Lisee, ECAR President and broker/owner of Capital Property Management hopes that this meeting has helped to start a dialogue in the community and plans to host more gatherings in the future. “It’s important that Connecticut REALTORS® continue to advocate for homeownership and fair housing by offering equal professional service to all in their search for real property.”

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