To promote social justice and eliminate
housing and lending inequities for all people, including
those with disabilities, through leadership, education
and outreach, public policy advocacy and enforcement.
History of Metro Fair Housing Services,
The civil rights organization was created on August
29, 1974, under the leadership of several area organizations
affiliated with National Neighbors and a coalition of
church groups in South DeKalb County. Chartered originally
as Homefinders Listing Service, Inc.
the community based agency was developed as an alternative
to a dual housing delivery system which was contributing
to rapid racial turnover. The purpose of the new organization
was to counter racial steering and promote stable, integrated
communities in South DeKalb County, an area characterized
at the time by blockbusting, racial steering, and a high
foreclosure rate. Homefinders Listing Service, Inc., maintained
a free listing service for sale and rental properties
hoping to create diversified communities.
The organization's name was changed to Metro Fair Housing
Services, Inc. (Metro), on August 25, 1978 because of
confusion associated with the former name. The confusion
arose because Homefinders Listing Service, Inc. stopped
providing the listing service and focused on other ways
to promote integrated communities.
From its inception, Metro has been involved in both
litigation and testing programs. Metro participated
in a national Housing Discrimination Studies (HDS) in
1989, 2000 and 2001. The purpose of the studies was
to measure the amount of discrimination faced by minority
home-seekers. The 2000
HDS study, conducted by the Urban Institute, included
the following cities in Georgia: Atlanta, Macon, Augusta,
Metro is a charter member of the National Fair Housing
Alliance (NFHA) and has conducted tests for NFHA for
several years. In the mid 1990's, NFHA conducted a nationwide
study of insurance companies to determine if homeowners
in minority neighborhoods were charged higher rates
than homeowners in majority neighborhoods for hazard
insurance. Metro performed insurance tests in the Atlanta
area that forced insurance companies to change the way
they offer coverage to all homeowners across the country.
Recently Metro was a party plaintiff, along with NFHA
and three other private fair housing organizations in
Florida and California, in a lawsuit alleging that a
major builder of multifamily apartments was not constructing
units that were accessible for people with mobility
impairments. In December 2009, in the largest settlement
of an accessibility case to date, the defendants agreed
to pay compensatory damages to the plaintiffs and to
retrofit approximately 13,200 units in 41 developments
across the United States. As a result of this litigation,
Metro convened a panel of experts representing a broad
range of industries and backgrounds to evaluate the
state of housing for people with disabilities in Georgia.
The panel looked at housing needs of the disabled, reviewed
existing research and explored best practices. Metro
published the following "white paper", Shut
Out, Priced Out and Segregated: The Need for Fair Housing
for People With Disabilities - August 2011 - A Public
Policy Report and Recommendations Addressing the State
of Housing for Georgians with Disabilities, which
has sparked a national movement to remove the political,
legal, and structural barriers to affordable, accessible
and integrated housing for the disabled.
During the past decade Metro has conducted Analysis
of Impediments to Fair Housing Choice studies for
the following areas: Atlanta, GA; Augusta, GA; Macon,
GA; Warner Robbins, GA; Columbus, GA; Athens/Clarke
County, GA; New Hanover, NC; DeKalb County, GA; and
Gwinnett County, GA. Our studies have assisted these
jurisdictions in understanding how to affirmatively
further fair housing.
In the past, housing providers had no problem saying,
"I don't rent to your kind," but now they
smile politely and say, "That unit has been rented."
Discrimination is alive and well, but it has been cocooned
in cordiality. Metro's goal is to educate and equip
all individuals in the metropolitan area with the necessary
tools to preserve their fair housing rights.
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