BURLINGTON, Vt. – The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has renewed funding for Vermont Legal Aid’s (VLA’s) Housing Discrimination Law Project (HDLP). The $300,000 grant enables Legal Aid to conduct fair housing investigations and representation throughout Vermont. Under its current three-year fair housing grant, VLA has helped more than 250 people complaining of housing discrimination and carried out more than 150 fair housing investigations in several Vermont communities, also commenting on nine separate zoning and planning projects around the state that had potentially adverse impacts on groups protected by fair housing laws.
“We are very pleased to learn that Legal Aid will continue to be active in the efforts to ensure that all persons have equal access to housing in Vermont. Fair housing is a fundamental civil right,” said Karen Richards, Executive Director of the Vermont Human Rights Commission.
“I was so happy when I won and got to keep my dog, I was almost in tears,” said Jerry Tallman, who Legal Aid represented in getting a reasonable accommodation. “If anyone else is in my shoes, I’m glad there is an answer for them, that they can call and get help like I did.”
“Our fair housing testing and calls to us indicate that Vermont is struggling to accept its increasing diversity,” said Rachel Batterson, Project Director of Vermont Legal Aid’s Housing Discrimination Law Project. “Vermont’s low vacancy rate and the right to evict for no reason exacerbate the problem. Housing discrimination hits Vermonters with children, people of color, New Americans, and people with disabilities particularly hard.
“Every person deserves a fair chance to live in a neighborhood free from discrimination,” said HUD Secretary Ben Carson in HUD’s January 23rd press release. “The funds announced today will allow our fair housing partners on the ground to combat housing discrimination and ensure every person has equal access to housing.”
“Fair housing is central to sustainable, successful communities,” said Joshua Hanford, Deputy Commissioner of the Department of Housing and Community Development. “We’re glad that Legal Aid will continue to work on equal access for all Vermonters.”
“Ensuring that people are treated fairly is central to Vermont Legal Aid’s mission,” Vermont Legal Aid Executive Director Eric Avildsen said. “Nobody should be denied equal access to housing, simply because of their race, ethnicity, disability, or having children. This new HUD grant enables us to continue to represent Vermonters who are discriminated against and improves the enforcement of fair housing laws generally.”
For more information about fair housing law, visit https://vtlawhelp.org/discriminationfair-housing. For more information about HUD’s Fair Housing programs, see HUD’s full press release at https://www.hud.gov/press/press_releases_media_advisories/HUD_No_18_004