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Published: Thursday, 4/15/2004

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Congress passed the federal Fair Housing Act in April, 1968 in direct response to the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

The Act provides protection from housing discrimination, including rental, real estate sales, homeowners insurance, mortgage loans, and appraisals. There are five protected classes under the Act, and they include race, color, sex, religion, and national origin.

Persons with disabilities and families with children were given protected status in 1988. The original goal of the Fair Housing Act was to desegregate America s communities.

At the dawn of the 21st Century, however, we still live in a nation divided by color lines, and northwest Ohio is no exception.

Much like the vision behind the Fair Housing Act, the Fair Housing Center was founded on the principles of community, tolerance, and justice. It was a commitment to these principles that led the League of Women Voters and members of the Old West End Neighborhood Association to establish the Fair Housing Center in 1975.

Residents of the neighborhood were concerned about discriminatory housing practices, such as redlining and steering, that were destroying Toledo s urban communities. Since its inception, the Center has fought diligently to dismantle barriers to fair and open housing choice.

Consequently, the Center has investigated over 8,100 complaints of discrimination and recovered over $24.5 million in damages for victims, while demonstrating a talent for setting national precedents that have expanded housing opportunities for millions of Americas across the country.

As outlined in its mission statement, the Center is a professional, non-profit, civil rights organization dedicated to the elimination of housing discrimination and the expansion of housing opportunities for all persons.

The Center conducts multiple educational outreach programs, provides housing counseling services, advocates for the rights of victims, investigates and litigates allegations of housing discrimination, and facilitates neighborhood tours.

Were it not for the Center s intervention, many low and moderate-income individuals and families would not have been able to obtain mortgage loans, mortgage insurance, or homeowners insurance, nor would many residents of northwest Ohio be able to live in the apartments and houses of their choice.

Unfortunately, the Fair Housing Laws do not always prohibit acts of housing discrimination. During the last year, the Fair Housing Center investigated 179 allegations of housing discrimination.

If you feel you have been discriminated against in your pursuit of housing, contact the Fair Housing Center for free and confidential help at (419) 243-6163.

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