Posted on April 5, 2017
Once again this year, the month of April will stand for “Fair Housing” within the Town of Hamburg and the Villages of Blasdell and Hamburg. This year marks the forty-ninth anniversary of the National Fair Housing Act, known as “Title VIII of the Civil Rights Acts of 1968”. It may have been almost fifty years since then President Lyndon Johnson facilitated the passage of the momentous law, but “fair housing” is still something that has not yet been fully achieved within the United States, despite the best efforts of government and private practitioners of “fair housing”. Ever since the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1968, it has fallen to the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to promote and control fair housing within our nation. HUD’s mission through its Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity (FHEO) is to eliminate housing discrimination, promote economic opportunity, and achieve diverse, inclusive communities by leading the nation in the enforcement, administration, development, and public understanding of federal fair housing policies and laws. HUD has set this year’s theme for “Fair Housing” month as “Fair Housing Equal’s Opportunity”.
The Town of Hamburg has had a long tradition in promoting and involving fair housing since the mid 1980’s. In 1986, the Hamburg Town Board passed Hamburg’s first fair housing law, which at that time, included one of the first “source of income” protections within a law in Western New York. Since that time there have been two updates made to Hamburg’s first law. The first was in 2005 that added more protected classes and enhancements to the 1986 law. The second, was passed in May, 2016 which added further protected classes and many other civil right and administrative updates. Possibly the most notable addition in 2016 was that the law included a section on “Inclusionary Zoning” which was the first of its kind in Western New York. This portion of the law was passed to address and prevent gentrification and increased socio-economic segregation. The hope is to create housing opportunities for households with limited incomes, ie: young families, seniors and persons with disabilities. Although relatively new within the town, there have been several occasions when the new inclusionary zoning portion of the law has been utilized and enforced since its passage last year. The Town of Hamburg has always been at the forefront of fair housing issues and laws within Western New York. In order to continue to be on the leading edge, Hamburg has always utilized and joined forces with it’s partners in fair housing, Housing Opportunities Made Equal, Inc. (HOME). HOME is located at 1542 Main Street, Buffalo, New York 14209 and until the end of December, 2016 was administered by long-time fair housing advocate, Scott Gehl. Mr. Gehl retired at the end of 2016 and HOME is now administered by its Executive Director; DeAnna Eason. Ms. Eason has been at HOME for almost twenty years and has moved up through their ranks to the point where she is in now in charge of the organization that first started advocating for fair housing and fair housing activities in 1963. Together, the Town of Hamburg and HOME have worked diligently to ensure that Hamburg residents are provided their rights when it comes to fair housing and fair housing issues. A ceremony recognizing April, 2017 as “Fair Housing Month” will be held within the lobby at Hamburg Town Hall on Thursday, April 6, 2017 at 11:00 a.m. Officials from the town, HUD, HOME, Inc. and other municipalities will be present to mark the occasion. For more information about the Town of Hamburg’s Fair Housing law, please contact the offices of “Hamburg Community Development” at (716) 648 – 6216 or go to www.townofhamburgny/com/cdbg.