Vermont Legal Aid has received a three-year Fair Housing Initiatives Program Grant from the Department of Housing and Urban Development to continue the Housing Discrimination Law Project’s work to ensure Vermonters’ access to housing and to challenge both individual and systemic discriminatory practices. The $975,000 grant will be disbursed over three years to fund Vermont Legal Aid’s statewide systemic and complaint-based testing project, fair housing counseling, representation in enforcement actions, education, and land use planning and policy advocacy with state and local officials. The Project’s most recent report on rental housing discrimination in Vermont, published in May 2014, found that discrimination was a factor in nearly half of the rental housing market tests conducted. The Project’s testing consistently shows high rates of discrimination in rental housing based on race, color, national origin, having minor children, and disability. “The importance of the right to live where one chooses, regardless of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, disability, or the presence of minor children in the household cannot be overstated,” said Karen Richards, Executive Director of the Vermont Human Rights Commission. “Where one lives affects every aspect of a person’s life from employment opportunities, to access to quality schools, to transportation and to affordable, quality goods and services. Grants like this one to Vermont Legal Aid that fund private investigation, testing and legal services are essential to ensuring that these rights are adequately protected.“ Vermont Legal Aid is a statewide, non-profit law firm that provides free civil legal information, advice and representation and works to promote fairness and justice in the civil legal system. Vermont Legal Aid partners with Legal Services Law Line of Vermont to maintain a website (www.vtlawhelp.org) that provides information and resources to help Vermonters resolve common civil legal problems.
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