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Housing discrimination issues

When people begin looking for co-op housing in Michigan their top priority is finding a home that meets the needs of their family. Unfortunately, some of these seekers may encounter discrimination when they try to arrange a viewing or apply to join the community.

Federal and state anti-discrimination laws make it clear that it is illegal for a homeowner, landlord or co-op board to discriminate against applicants on the basis of race, nationality, disability and several other immutable characteristics. While there is some evidence that housing discrimination on the basis of race or ethnicity has been on the decline, violations continue to occur.

This type of discrimination can sometimes be hard to detect. This may be because bias is often a factor in the earliest stages of the application process, before an applicant's history and qualifications are considered. A co-op member or administrator may take note of an "ethnic" name and ignore the application. While this practice is illegal, it still occurs.

In addition to being illegal, there is evidence that housing discrimination can also be unhealthy. When property owners and management boards discriminate, individuals and families of minority racial, ethnic and religious groups may have to settle for substandard housing in neighborhoods that have high crime levels as well as environmental concerns such as pollution.

Individuals and families who believe that they have been the victims of housing discrimination may benefit from speaking with an attorney with experience in cases involving fair housing. The lawyer may be able to review the client's case and launch an investigation into the practices of the co-op board.

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