Seminar promotes fair housing & best practices - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

Seminar promotes fair housing & best practices

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Fair housing is required by law.  And today, many of those who have a role in providing housing gathered to discuss how to ensure that practice is guaranteed in Southwest Louisiana.

The road to fair housing was hard fought.  In1968 the Federal Fair Housing Act became law as a follow up to the Civil Rights Act of 1964. While much progress has been made, fair housing advocates still seek to build on achievements. 

Tarek Polite is the Director of Human Services for Calcasieu Parish.

"It's actually designed to help all Americans whether they're purchasing or renting houses.  It's designed to protect the rights of all Americans," said Polite, of the Fair Housing Act.

Goals of the Fair Housing Act are to eliminate discrimination and promote diversity where all are welcome.  Part of the effort includes training.

"As with anything it's all about education and awareness and so that's what this workshop is promoting.  It's promoting awareness of how a person's rights might be infringed upon and if they are infringed upon the steps that a person might be able to take to correct the matter," said Polite.

One workshop featured attorney Larry Pichon who discussed bridging the gap between landlords, tenants and fair housing and common issues.

The landlord has a right to either rent or possession of the property.  He can't have both.  He can't collect the rent and kick you out," said Pichon.

Pichon also talked about various rights and responsibilities of both tenants and landlords and some not so common issues.

"I did have a case where the landlord went and changed the locks and the girl's school books were locked in and she was in the middle of finals.  So I had to file to get her books returned," said Pichon.

Most at the seminar were property owners and landlords, but parish and city leaders have set up a hotline aimed at helping anyone experiencing difficulties with fair housing.  The Calcasieu Fair Housing hotline is 721-4005 and it's for tenants, landlords or anyone who has an issue with fair housing.

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