TRENTON – Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal and the Division on Civil Rights announced today that the Division is co-sponsoring a public forum focused on ending housing segregation and advancing the cause of fair housing this Wednesday (May 16) at Seton Hall University Law School in Newark.
Entitled “The Color of Law,” the forum will feature keynote speaker Richard Rothstein, an author and research associate at the Economic Policy Institute. Rothstein’s book – “The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Government Segregated America” – will serve as the foundation of his presentation, during which he will also take questions from the audience.
The event’s organizer is Monarch Housing Associates. In addition to the Division on Civil Rights and Seton Hall University Law School, other co-sponsors include the Anti-Poverty Network of New Jersey and the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice. The Division on Civil Rights contributed $7,500 to help fund the forum, and the Investors Bank Foundation provided a $5,000 grant to support the event.
Division Director Craig Sashihara, who will be on hand with his housing investigation staff to speak with attendees and take discrimination complaints, said that the Attorney General’s Office is committed to ensuring equal access to housing for all persons.
“We all have the right to be treated equally in the pursuit of housing,” said Sashihara.
“Any person or entity seeking to deny that right—be it a landlord, property seller, management company, real estate professional, homeowner’s association, or newspaper (listing an exclusionary housing advertisement) will be held accountable,” Sashihara said.
The forum will take place from 8:30 a.m. through 12 p.m., and will also feature remarks from Anti-Poverty Network of New Jersey Executive Director Renee Koubiadis, Seton Hall Law School Dean Kathleen Boozang, and Elizabeth Russian, who heads the Division on Civil Rights’ seven-person fair housing investigation unit.
Law School Professor Paula Franzese will moderate a panel discussion to discuss what can be done in New Jersey to combat and eliminate housing segregation and advance better fair housing policy. Attendees will also have the opportunity to view the traveling interactive exhibit “Un Design the Redline.”
Rothstein is a former columnist for The New York Times and is a Distinguished Fellow of the Economic Policy Institute and a Senior Fellow, emeritus, at the Thurgood Marshall Institute of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and of the Haas Institute at the University of California (Berkeley). His most recent book, The Color of Law, was one of ten finalists on the National Book Awards' list for the best nonfiction book of 2017.
In his book, Rothstein details some of the ways in which housing segregation was codified in America, arguing that the Federal Housing Administration (FHA), which was established in 1934, furthered the segregation efforts by refusing to insure mortgages in and near African-American neighborhoods — a policy known as redlining. He contends that, at the same time, FHA was subsidizing builders who were mass-producing entire subdivisions for whites — with the requirement that none of the homes be sold to African-Americans. Rothstein argues that redlining was also practiced by the Home Owners Loan Corp. and adopted by the Veterans Administration. Thus, he concludes, the federal policies effectively precluded African-Americans from meaningful participation in one of the largest expansions of home ownership in American history.
Registration for the May 16 housing forum is free, but seats are limited. Attorneys can obtain free continuing legal education credit. The online link to register is: www.123signup.com/event?id=hbhfj.
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