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By Michelle Rydz
High Plains Fair Housing 

Letter to the editor: Fair Housing for All


November 4, 2019

 This month High Plains Fair Housing Center launches a campaign to fight sexual harassment in housing. The campaign in North Dakota is inspired by a similar national campaign launched in early 2019 by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development under the leadership of Secretary Ben Carson and the U.S. Department of Justice.

 The Fair Housing Act makes it unlawful to discriminate in housing transactions based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, disability, or family status. This year, High Plains is especially focused on protecting the right of individuals to feel safe and secure in their homes, free from sexual harassment or unwanted sexual advances.

 Since our start in 2013, High Plains has received calls that may have indicated sexual harassment in housing. For example, repeated entry into a unit without notice at odd times in the day or evening or quid pro quo harassment in which a property manager conditions repairs on dating or “friendship”. These calls did not end in fair housing complaints but they did demonstrate the need for a stronger message that sexual harassment in housing is illegal.

 Anna María Farías, HUD’s Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity said, “No one should have to tolerate harassment or unwanted sexual advances in order to keep a roof over their head, and HUD will continue to take appropriate action when discrimination of this type occurs.”

 High Plains has a two pronged approach for North Dakota: First, an outreach toolkit will be distributed throughout the state and is designed to reach victims of sex discrimination and their advocates to insure that victims of sexual harassment know their rights are and how exercise their rights.

 Second, a public awareness campaign including launching of a social media campaign, Billboards and Public Service Announcements (PSAs). The campaign is specifically designed to raise awareness, and make it easier for victims all over North Dakota to find resources and report harassment.

 Sexual harassment in housing is illegal. Fair housing is your right. If you are experiencing sexual harassment in your housing, please contact us.

Michelle Rydz

High Plains Fair Housing


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