LOCAL News :: Civil and Human Rights : Housing and Development
StL Equal Housing Funding Cuts
Metropolitan St. Louis Equal Housing Opportunity Council (EHOC) Suffers Federal Funding Cuts, a severe blow to their ability to fight housing discrimination.
For the first time since 1996, EHOC will not be receiving funding through the US Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Fair Housing Initiatives Program (FHIP) despite consistently high marks underscoring the strength and success of EHOC’s track record. The funding cut equals over $210,000 and translates to 65% of the agency’s budget.
In just the first nine months of 2006, EHOC filed 62 fair housing complaints with the US Department of Housing and Urban Development, the US Department of Justice, the Missouri Commission on Human Rights, and the Illinois Department of Human Rights. Additionally, 1500 people were educated about their rights under the Fair Housing Act of 1968. According to the 2000 census, the St. Louis metropolitan area is the 4th most segregated area of the country.
A recent study shows that St. Louis, MO, has the greatest disparity in loans given to median and high income African Americans compared to whites with similar incomes. National studies on housing discrimination estimate that persons with disabilities are discriminated against in over 25% of all rental transactions. Latino renters face discrimination in approximately one of every four rental transactions, and African American renters are treated unfavorably in roughly 20% of rental transactions.
What does EHOC actually do? EHOC provides assistance to people who have been discriminated against in housing, and provides homeless prevention and tenant counseling to residents of the metropolitan St. Louis region. EHOC educates housing providers and home seekers on their rights and responsibilities under the Fair Housing Act. One notable case of 2006 is EHOC et al vs. City of Valley Park: Along with several landlords, EHOC is suing the City of Valley Park and has won a temporary restraining order prohibiting the city from enforcing an ordinance on “illegal immigration.” EHOC also won a case against a Belleville landlord and former professional baseball player who was charged with race and familial status discrimination in the management of his 170 units of property. Mr. Zipfel made racially derogatory comments to people who inquired about the apartment and posed as potential renters.
What will happen now? EHOC is determined to continuing their commitment to tackling housing discrimination. While Fair Housing projects such as EHOC have relied heavily on HUD’s FHIP funding, overall federal fair housing funding has fallen from $21 million in 1994 to only $18 million in 2006. To reduce the impact of sporadic and insufficient funding, EHOC will be working to increase support among public and private agencies and individuals. EHOC has already received commitments of support from St. Louis City and St. Louis County, and will be continuing to approach local and county governments receiving CDBG funding.
In addition, EHOC is appealing to the general public to invest in their own communities by supporting services that enforce housing rights. EHOC is seeking memberships as well as participation in fundraising events, such as December 9th’s Your Choice House Concert and Silent Auction.
How you can help:
Be an activist:
• become a member of EHOC;
• make a donation;
• forward this email to your friends and colleagues!
For more, please contact
Equal Housing Opportunity Council
1027 South Vandeventer Avenue,
St. Louis, MO 63110