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HUD van will roll into S'side

To celebrate the 36th anniversary of the passage of the Fair Housing Act, the Department of Housing and Urban Development is launching a three-week fair housing van tour through Washington, Oregon and Idaho.

The purpose of the tour is to bring the message of equal housing opportunities to local communities.

The HUD van is scheduled to make a stop in Sunnyside next Tuesday, April 20, at 9 a.m. at The Valley's Market parking lot. Visitors to the van will learn more about their rights to equal housing opportunities, test their knowledge with the fair housing quiz game and learn how to file a complaint if they suspect housing discrimination.

The Fair Housing Act, established by Congress in 1968, prohibits discrimination in the rental, sale or financing of any dwelling based on race, color, religion, sex or national orgin. In 1988, amendments were added to prohibit discrimination based on disability and familial status.

Alleged violations of the Act are investigated by HUD, state and city agencies working with HUD, and by private fair housing groups, many of which receive HUD funds.

"HUD and our partners are determined to ensure fair housing for all, especially minorities, persons with disabilities and families with children," said Arlene Patton, HUD's Spokane field office director.

Judith Keeler, director of fair housing for HUD in Region 10, said she encourages everyone to visit the van when it stops in their community.

"Fair housing specialists will be there to answer your questions, provide informational brochures and explain how to file a complaint if you suspect housing discrimination," Keeler said.

In 2003, nearly 8,100 discrimination complaints nationwide were filed with HUD and its partner agencies. HUD resolved more than 8,400 cases last year.

HUD studies confirm that African Americans, Hispanics, Asians and Native Americans often receive less favorable treatment than similarly qualified whites when attempting to buy, finance or rent homes. Discrimination because of race and national origin is alleged in more than 50 percent of the complaints received by HUD.

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