Advocate web site's new features reach thousands nationwide; expansion continues

As the National Fair Housing Advocate web site ( has added new features, the number of people who have visited the site has grown rapidly. Since the site has added its discussion foru m and searchable case databases, the site has received more than 42,000 been logged since it's launch in mid-1996. Questions and responses have been posted by civil rights advocates, real estate professionals, attorneys, and tenants. Overall, the discussion forum has been a huge success.

Webmaster Joel Emerson reports nearly 11,000 hits to the searchable case databases since adding them to the site. The response to the case databases has been phenomenal considering that they have only been operational for a few months. While many hits came from the same locations, the number of different locations has jumped to nearly 3,000 from around 1,500 in mid-1996.

Two national civil rights groups, the International Association of Official Human Rights Agencies and the National Association of Human Rights Workers, href="">National Neighbors, has decided to shift its home page to the Advocate server from another site, as has the North Carolina Fair Housing Center . Other new home pages include the Fair Housing Council of Northern New Jersey and the Suburban Philadelphia Fair Housing Center. The new pages are still under construction. Emerson site. The Advocate site provides page design services as well as free server space to any fair housing organization that wants them.

By having a home page, a fair housing organization can reach anyone with Internet viewable with any web browsing software. As more and more people buy computers and get online, web pages are becoming an increasingly viable way to get an organization's message to the public.

Editor Galen Martin pointed out an important benefit of the home pages. He said, "Fair housing groups now have a new way to get their message out to their

For organizations that don't want a home page, the web site's discussion forum provides an alternative. Anyone from around the country can post a question to the forum. Then, fair housing professionals in that person's area can reply, either to the forum or to the advertisements and redundant posts that appear on other Internet newsgroups.

The Advocate newsletter has recently been awarded $58,000 in HUD Fair Housing Initiative Program funds to increase circulation to 20,000 and extend it's publication schedule to July 1998. The Advocate is adding 500 new names to the subscription list per month. Special attention is being given to disability/accessibility rights advocates and real estate professionals. To help boost circulation, Emerson added an e-mail pointer to Assistant Editor Tony Baize ( on the web site so that list. Receiving the additions and corrections by e-mail, fax, or regular mail speeds up the process of correcting the mailing list.

Ronald Ray Smith, a disability rights advocate from Las Vegas, said that his favorite features of the Advocate web site are the searchable databases. "Your search function actually turned up a document I was looking for on the first attempt," he said.