On April 11, 1968, housing discrimination was banned by law. But 55 years later, it still happens. Mid-Minnesota Legal Aid (MMLA) and Legal Aid want to make sure it doesn’t happen. People with disabilities can help by volunteering as testers.
“We’ve come a long way since the signing of the Fair Housing Act, but we have a long way to go, which is why we’re making a public appeal to increase the numbers of volunteers on our teams of testers,” said Elana Dahlager, MMLA attorney.
Testers are volunteers who go out when a complaint of housing discrimination comes into Legal Aid. They pose as housing applicants and document their experiences.
Before the COVID pandemic, MMLA’s testing teams operated under the radar. Post-pandemic, MMLA is launching a not so quiet restart, publicly urging people of every age, color, national origin, ability, gender and sexual identity to join the effort.
MMLA reminds the community that housing discrimination can be subtle. Landlords and property owners who favor some housing applicants over others might not know that their reasons for doing so could be a violation of housing law.
“If they’re not aware of fair housing practices, they should be, because we’re out there, making sure the law is being followed,” said Housing Investigations Coordinator Erica Whitaker.
Detecting discrimination requires training. For those who step up as testers, free training will be provided by Mid-Minnesota Legal Aid. To volunteer, reach out to Erica Whitaker at Ewhitaker@mylegalaid.org.