Housing discrimination persists in Bloomington-Normal! So says a 2018 survey conducted by the City of Bloomington, Town of Normal, and McLean County Regional Planning Commission. This unsettling conclusion was based on the responses of 75 percent of African Americans, 66 percent of 18-24 year-olds and 58 percent of renters who answered the survey. Unfortunately, this type of discrimination violates federal, state and local fair housing laws. Fair Housing is the right to choose housing, free from unlawful discrimination based on a person’s status. The protected categories include race, color, ancestry, religion, gender, national origin, families with children, disability, age, military or military discharge status, marital status, protective order status, sexual orientation and gender identity.

In celebration of national Fair Housing Month, on Wednesday, April 21 from 12-1 p.m., attorney Emily Petri of Prairie State Legal Services (PSLS) will present a free presentation through Zoom about fair housing law. She will address how to identify violations of fair housing law and identify resources on how to address such unlawful acts. Ms. Petri will explain how to obtain legal assistance to seek remedies for these acts from Prairie State’s fair housing project in Bloomington. Registration is free and open to everyone. Register online at tinyurl.com/FairHousing-PSLS.

Each April, the nation celebrates Fair Housing Month to commemorate the passage of the nation’s fair housing laws. Those laws include the federal Fair Housing Act and the Illinois Human Rights Act. The City of Bloomington also has its own fair housing ordinance.

Also in April, PSLS has partnered with other area agencies to educate the public about fair housing through promotional materials including branded postcards, yard signs, billboards and social media content. Members of the public interested in learning more about fair housing can visit Prairie State’s webpage at http://pslegal.org/fairhousing.asp.

“The landmark Fair Housing Acts of 1968 and 1988 require fair housing,” said Adrian Barr, managing attorney in the Bloomington office of Prairie State Legal Services, Inc. “At Prairie State, we want to ensure that everyone has access to the housing of their choice, free from unlawful discrimination.”

In FY 2019 and FY 2020, the Bloomington office of PSLS received Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funding through the City of Bloomington to provide legal services to fight housing discrimination in Bloomington. In 2020, PSLS continued growing its fair housing project with additional funding from the Town of Normal. The goals of the fair housing project are to increase awareness of housing discrimination in Bloomington-Normal and to assist residents who may have suffered from the various acts of housing providers who violate the fair housing laws.  For more information or to request Fair Housing Month promotional materials for your organization, please call Emily Petri at (309) 433-0066.