114584451279252941 Civil Rights Training

Civil Rights groups will test fair housing practices Agencies to scrutinize offerings to ensure minorities get equal access in county. George Hunter / The Detroit News To get involved Training will begin Saturday. Those who are selected will receive $25 per visit, along with compensation for mileage. For information about the program or to register for training, call (248) 253-1548. Two civil rights agencies say they are joining forces to ensure minorities, senior citizens and other groups are given equal access to housing opportunities in Macomb County. The Macomb Ministerial Alliance and the Legal Aid and Defender Fair Housing Center soon will begin training people to pose as potential renters, to see whether landlords are discouraging some groups from renting apartments. The program is funded by a three-year grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Legal Services Corp. and the United Way as part of an initiative to end housing discrimination in Metro Detroit. People of all races and ages are being recruited for the program, said Ministerial Alliance spokesman Gregory Murray. "This is a big problem, not only for minorities, but for seniors and people of low income," Murray said. "What we will do is send two people of different ethnicities to inquire about the availability of an apartment, condo or other rental unit. "If a black person, or an elderly person, is turned down, and another person is not, and both people had the same kind of qualifications, then we’ll know there’s likely discrimination going on," Murray said. If a landlord is found to be discriminatory, federal sanctions could be levied by HUD, said Michelle Johnson, director for the Legal Aid and Defender Fair Housing Center, which covers Macomb and Oakland counties. The National Fair Housing Alliance released a report last week that found that in Detroit and 11 other cities nationwide, 87 percent of agents it tested directed African-American customers toward mostly black neighborhoods and white customers toward mostly white areas — an illegal practice known as steering. The group sent people of varying races to real estate offices in Metro Detroit, then measured any differences in the way each group was treated. It found that agents showed white customers homes mainly in the Grosse Pointes, but showed black customers with similar backgrounds homes in Detroit. The Michigan Association of Realtors wants to begin voluntary tests to determine if Realtors are treating customers differently based on their race. The group also is considering asking lawmakers to require Realtors in Michigan to receive regular training on the laws that prohibit housing discrimination. You can reach George Hunter at (586) 468-7396 or ghunter@detnews.com. Visit My Web site, http://www.wynnea.com/, for more information or Call Wynne on cell 586-260-7653

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