It’s a phone call no association wants to receive. Fair Housing testers say sales associates in the market violated the law by treating households differently based on race and ethnicity.
That’s what happened to the Lehigh Valley Association of REALTORS® in Pennsylvania, but the story doesn’t end there.
Taking the view that even a single allegation of discrimination is one too many, the association worked with community groups to institute a hard-hitting campaign to educate its members about Fair Housing. “We made a decision to be part of the solution,” says Andrea Decker, the association’s president in 2012, when the Fair Housing testing was conducted.
The campaign combines the latest best practices on federal Fair Housing rules from NAR, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, and other groups, with an outreach program that vests brokers in the education process.
“We decided brokers were the best means to mitigate this issue,” says Justin Porembo, the Lehigh Valley association’s government affairs director. “We asked them to have an educational forum at each of their monthly staff meetings to keep the conversation about Fair Housing going.”
A new task force was created to develop monthly Fair Housing topics that brokers could use in their meetings. The task force also looked at ways to increase minority representation on the association’s board, and it worked with HUD to create a publication directed at consumers to help them understand Fair Housing and how to report activity that they think might violate the law.
The campaign has been in place for about a year now and it’s impact has been significant. “Ultimately, we feel the outcome was positive,” says Ryan Conrad, the association’s CEO. “We’re moving forward.”
In a 6-minute video. Conrad and others walk you through the details of the report by the Fair Housing testers, how the association responded, and what the outcome has been.