One of the many important factors in ensuring that all neighbors in the Promise Zone community have decent, safe housing is the understanding and enforcement of fair housing laws. Federal law dictates that both tenants and landlords have certain rights and responsibilities within contract agreements. The Fair Housing Act, part of the Civil Rights Act of 1968, was written and signed into law to prevent historically discriminative housing practices that disproportionately harmed poor communities and communities of color. Since the passage of the Fair Housing Act, housing laws have been updated to provide more protection to tenants and to combat more forms of housing discrimination. The Promise Zone team has regularly worked with the Fair Housing Center of Central Indiana (FHCCI), a non-profit founded in 2011, to address fair housing concerns in our community. The mission of FHCCI is to support the Central Indiana community by educating residents on their rights and pursuing legal recourse against those who violate them. Their work supports the Live IndyEast goals of ensuring all Promise Zone neighbors have access to safe and affordable housing.
In March, FHCCI received $425,000 from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development through two separate awards, both part of the Fair Housing Initiatives program. $300,000 was awarded as the final allocation from a three-year grant to support private enforcement of fair housing laws. These funds will be used to provide counseling for clients, to investigate potential violations, and to take legal actions when necessary. To date, this three-year grant has helped fund three lawsuits that will have positive implications for Promise Zone residents by punishing bad actors and seeking damages for historic discrimination. The other award, totaling $125,000, is part of the Fair Housing Initiatives Program’s Education and Outreach Initiative, which FHCCI applies for each year. This award will be used to create and distribute educational materials, to conduct training, and to organize events related to federal fair housing laws. Between March of 2019 and March of 2020, when the latest awards were announced, FHCCI hosted 8 events in the 46201 zip code, with a total of 210 attendees. They were also able to distribute 2400 fair housing publications at that time. Over the one-year term of this new grant, FHCCI will continue distributing information and hosting events to help Near Eastside residents understand their rights as tenants.
These awards will help FHCCI continue working towards their mission of ensuring equal housing opportunities by through education and action. We are proud to partner with FHCCI to support our renting neighbors and make sure their rights are protected. We look forward to seeing how these latest awards will help FHCCI serve the Promise Zone community and others throughout Central Indiana. Read our previous coverage on FHCCI here.