Web site and fair housing organizations launch awareness campaign

Housing Rights Center 
Contact: Gary Rhoades 
213-387-8400 x 32
For Immediate Release April 2, 2003

National Rental Website and Fair Housing Organizations Celebrate National Fair Housing Month With The Launch of Unique Internet Fair Housing Awareness Campaign

(LOS ANGELES, CHICAGO, NASHVILLE & CYBERSPACE, 4/2/03) -- The Housing Rights Center (HRC), The Tennessee Fair Housing Council and Apartments.com of Classified Ventures, LLC announced the launch of a joint fair housing education advertising campaign on the Internet. The goal of the “Live Free From Discrimination” campaign is to make tenants of and applicants for rental housing and their landlords aware of federal and state laws prohibiting discrimination in housing based on race, religion, gender sexual orientation, familial status physical or mental disability and other personal characteristics.

In a series of display banners prepared by Apartments.com, viewers will be informed that April is Fair Housing Month and will have the opportunity to link to the National Fair Housing Advocate Online, a comprehensive national fair housing web site developed and maintained by the Tennessee Fair Housing Council and found at http://www.fairhousing.com. The fair housing banners will be published on Apartments.com as well as on latimes.com throughout April 2003 in recognition of Fair Housing Month. Along with postings by individual landlords, numerous newspapers in the United States, including the Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, Miami Herald and Chicago Tribune, direct their classified advertisements for republication on Apartments.com.

“Live Free From Discrimination” is a campaign originally conceived by the creative staff of the Los Angeles Times along with the Housing Rights Center. The Times also will publish display advertisements and daily notices throughout April summarizing the fair housing laws and providing telephone numbers for local fair housing organizations, including HRC.

Federal and state fair housing laws are intended to prohibit discrimination in the rental and sales of housing, and in lending and insurance. Recent studies have found that many people are not aware of the fair housing laws. An April 2002 study sponsored by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) found that 70 percent of the people surveyed were aware that it is illegal to discriminate in the sale of homes on the basis of race, but only 38 percent of the people surveyed were aware that it is illegal to treat families with children differently from households without children.

That same HUD-funded study, which was conducted by the Urban Institute and the University of Michigan, suggests that housing discrimination decreases when awareness about fair housing laws increases. “The study certainly shows the need for fair housing education,” says Marlene Garza, HRC’s Chief Executive Officer. “Awareness of fair housing rights is the first step toward preventing discrimination in housing.”

Apartments.com is a leading national online apartment resource distinguished by its personalized searches, highly visual ads and affiliation with the local newspaper and television station Web sites of more than 170 affiliates across the country, including the Chicago Tribune (www.chicagotribune.com), The Washington Post  (www.washingtonpost.com), Los Angeles Times (www.latimes.com) and Miami Herald (www.miami.com). Apartments.com, a division of Chicago-based Classified Ventures, LLC, delivers highly qualified, ready-to-rent prospects to its nearly 11,000 trade customers, which increases closure rates and decreases the average cost of leasing an apartment. Classified Ventures’ investor owners are: Belo Corp., Gannett Co., Inc., Knight Ridder, The McClatchy Company, Tribune Company and The Washington Post Company.

The Housing Rights Center provides fair housing education, investigation and advocacy services for Los Angeles and Ventura Counties. The Tennessee Fair Housing Council is a private, non-profit organization whose mission is to fight housing discrimination in the Nashville area. The Nashville-based organization has operated the National Fair Housing Advocate Online since 1985, and the site won a Best Practices award from HUD in 1999. The Los Angeles Times has taken a leadership role in fair housing awareness for many years, and is a founding member of the Fair Housing Advertising Task Force of Southern California

Any resident, organization, landlord or property manager can call their local fair housing organization (see http://www.fairhousing.com/resources/finder/index.htm) to get information or to sign up for a workshop on the fair housing laws.