Gastonia Partners with NC Legal Aid to Offer Free Fair Housing Workshops
Gastonia wants to foster equity in housing opportunities by partnering with North Carolina Legal Aid to offer free fair housing workshops.
“Education is a very important aspect of fair housing,” said Danette Dye, Gastonia’s director of housing and neighborhoods.
Dye and Cherie Jzar, the city’s diversity, equity and inclusion coordinator, will collaborate with Legal Aid of North Carolina to provide workshops for residents on fair housing.
Fair housing laws prohibit discrimination based on race, national origin, color, religion, gender, sexual orientation, disability or family status.
The laws are designed to protect rights to buy a home, obtain a mortgage, rent an apartment and more.
“Most people may not be aware that help is available and aware of the resources made available," said Dye.
There will be four free virtual workshops taught by North Carolina Legal Aid staff including one course that will be taught in Spanish.
The workshops will discuss housing discrimination, landlord responsibilities, information for those working in house-related fields and more.
“We can avoid unconscious decisions made where people are discriminated against by sharing this information,” said Jzar.
Jzar says the idea to provide the workshops came to mind as she talked with community members about information that would be helpful for residents.
“Everyone doesn’t know when they are being discriminated against or what is considered a fair housing violation,” said Jzar. “We want to give them information so they can learn for themselves and know where to go to get redress about issues.”
To participate, guests only need internet access and to register online at the city of Gastonia’s website.
“With increased focus and demand for affordable housing, limited housing stock and other compounding factors such as COVID-19, it is important now more so than ever for all families and individuals to have knowledge of fair housing laws,” said Dye. “Fair housing education allows for better informed decision-making and greater housing choice for all individuals and families.”
The last workshop will include a panel discussion of housing professionals sharing the rights and limitations of professionals providing housing.
“We have a pretty diverse community and no one should be denied housing because of any of their identities,” said Jzar. “We have to look at all the elements of our community to make sure no systems are in place for anyone to be denied access because of some difference that they have.”
Dye and Jzar hope that the workshops provide residents with the information they need to make effective housing decisions.
Reach Janiya Winchester at 704-869-1842 or firstname.lastname@example.org.