For the second year, Pathways to Sussex has received a federal Housing and Urban Development grant to inform the public about their rights under the Fair Housing Act.
Domineque Scott, Pathways to Success Fair Housing educator, said the HUD grant helps increase her outreach efforts regarding the law, which makes it illegal to refuse to rent or sell a home based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status or handicap. Discrimination against families with children is also illegal.
Scott said most complaints she receives are from those who are handicapped or disabled, and need modifications such as ramps and grab bars. Landlords and property managers may attempt to deny such accommodations, but they are acceptable under the law if the request is reasonable.
“People don’t feel they have rights,” Scott said. “That’s why we do presentations. We tell them their rights and how to file a complaint. Slum lords really do exist.”
Landlords cannot block access to housing or treat renters differently because of their accent or if they’re from another country, Scott said. Renters can be taken advantage of, and they are sometimes afraid to report discrimination if they risk deportation.
“So they take the trauma because they don’t want to lose the house or get kicked out of the country,” Scott said. “They are denied rights even though the landlord can afford to provide the accommodations or maintenance. People shouldn’t be living with holes in the roof or floor.”
Training and information are available to help residents know their rights as renters and their responsibilities as housing providers, and Scott is prepared to help residents file discrimination complaints.
Anyone who wants more information, or who thinks they have been discriminated against based on those seven protected classes, is asked to contact Scott at 302-858-4863 or go to pathways-2-success.org/fair-housing.