|TRENTON – Attorney General Christopher S. Porrino and the Division on Civil Rights announced today they have launched a bilingual campaign to raise housing rights awareness and discourage housing discrimination by providing anti-discrimination posters to more than 500 public and private entities statewide.
According to Division Director Craig T. Sashihara, the Division has sent sets of two anti-housing discrimination posters – one in English and one in Spanish – to a total of 560 entities that interact daily with members of the public from all social and economic demographics.
Included among the recipients are public libraries, community colleges, YMCAs, ARC locations, veterans’ centers, Planned Parenthood sites, Jewish Community Centers, Islamic community centers and county hospitals.
“Absolute equality in housing is the law in New Jersey. Individuals who are otherwise eligible renters and buyers have a right to live where they choose and to be treated equally when shopping for a home or seeking rental accommodations,” said Attorney General Porrino. “We are committed to ensuring this fundamental right, and we encourage public facilities, community groups and others across New Jersey to help us by displaying these posters in conspicuous locations.”
The two color posters feature the same photograph – it depicts a young U.S. war veteran of Iraq sitting in a wheelchair outside a brick building with a For Rent sign on the door – and also contain the same message that, “Fair Housing is His Right and Yours!”
“Michael fought oversees for his country and shouldn’t have to fight housing discrimination at home,” the posters assert, while also urging readers to report discrimination at the Division’s web site – NJCivilRights.gov – or by calling the Division’s toll-free number, 866-405-3050.
Division Director Sashihara noted that, while many people understand that both state and federal law prohibit housing discrimination based on race, the general public may not realize the full reach of New Jersey’s Law Against Discrimination (LAD), which is widely regarded by lawyers and scholars to be among the most comprehensive state anti-discrimination laws in the country.
Each year, Sashihara said, the Division investigates hundreds of discrimination complaints of all types filed by the public, including many housing complaints. Some examples from 2016 include:
- An apartment complex violated the LAD when it refused to rent a unit to a young family with three minor children because the family had “too many kids.” Such conduct represented unlawful discrimination based on “familial status.”
- A housing cooperative violated the LAD when it refused to provide reasonable accommodations to a minor child who was suffering mental disabilities arising from the death of her father. Such conduct represented unlawful discrimination based on “disability.”
- Dozens of landlords violated the LAD when they refused to rent to persons relying on government-issued housing vouchers – so-called Section 8 funds – to help make ends meet. Such denials represented discrimination based on “source of lawful income used for rental or mortgage payments.”
The LAD also bans housing discrimination based on a person’s religion, gender, pregnancy, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, marital status, civil union status, domestic partnership status, nationality, color, and ancestry.
The Division’s anti-housing-discrimination posters were sent out on June 7, and are also available to the public and businesses upon request. A cover letter signed by Director Sashihara and accompanying the posters noted that, over the past four years, the Division has recovered more than $6.5 million for the public and victims of all types of discrimination, and has imposed training and policy requirements on housing providers and real estate professionals to prevent future housing discrimination. The cover letter asks recipients to “help carry out the Attorney General’s mission to combat housing discrimination by displaying the enclosed posters – in English and Spanish – in a public area of your facility.”
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