Alt Text

NFHTA Digest: June 2022

NFHTA Logo

NFHTA is pleased to announce the latest edition of the NFHTA Digest!

The June edition includes:

  • The history of the NFHTA logo
  • An interview with NFHTA Faculty member, Jason Auer
  • Details about the newly improved NFHTA Resource Library
  • Materials from the April and June National Fair Housing Forums
  • A list of upcoming NFHTA courses and forums

Registration is now open for the July National Fair Housing Forum: Strategies for Addressing Discrimination: Housing Providers' Use of Criminal Records. Join NFHTA and HUD's Office of General Counsel (OGC) for an informative discussion on how criminal background screening policies and practices can violate the Fair Housing Act.

The Story Behind the NFHTA Logo

"A picture is worth a thousand words" is an adage that accurately describes the NFHTA logo that was intentionally crafted to ensure it would resonate with fair housing professionals and respectfully represent the important work done to promote housing equity for families across the country.

The NFHTA Logo Design team reviewed logos used by other fair housing organizations so as not to unintentionally design a logo that might be too similar to others. It was also essential to convey equity while also expressing empowerment and leadership. The incorporation of these elements was critical to reflecting the Academy’s commitment to addressing the needs and building the wisdom of fair housing practitioners—those working to end housing discrimination in communities across the nation.

Seven Federally Protected Classes

The seven blocks represent these federally protected classes. While state and local governments may include additional protections, NFHTA provides training and technical assistance to fair housing practitioners related to the seven federally protected classes under the Fair Housing Act:

  • Race
  • Color
  • Religion
  • National Origin
  • Sex
  • Disability
  • Familial Status

The strategic arrangement of the blocks demonstrates NFHTA’s dedication to supporting and developing skilled practitioners who are ready to ensure opportunity for all. Their vertical arrangement recalls specific design elements of the HUD logo.

This is an important distinction in as equality suggests each person or group should be given the same resources or opportunities. Equity recognizes that each person has different circumstances and allocates the specific resources and opportunities needed to reach an equal outcome.


Defending Civil Rights

Another key design element is the badge-shaped outline. Initially, the badge was conceptualized as more of a shield with sharp edges, but evolved to a badge-like outline. The badge pays respect to the work that fair housing practitioners do to defend civil rights and to reinforce the idea that fair housing is the law.


Impactful Colors

 
 

The NFHTA colors were thoughtfully considered as well. A combination of green and blue was selected to align with the HUD logo.

Blue evokes a steadfast tone, community authority, and seriousness, while green is seen as representing growth, abundance, and freshness.


Final NFHTA Logo

NFHTA Logo

In pulling it all together, careful consideration resulted in the inclusion of the full title, “National Fair Housing Training Academy” in the logo along with different font weights to delineate and draw attention to both National Fair Housing and Training Academy.

The final result is a striking logo with a lot of meaning and intention behind it.

Meet the NFHTA Faculty: Jason Auer, Esq.

For more than nine years, Jason has focused on litigating housing discrimination, civil rights, subsidized housing, eviction defense, and foreclosure defense. He created, built, and led Arkansas’s only private Fair Housing Initiatives Program (FHIP) representing complainants in enforcing meritorious claims of housing discrimination, engaging community partners by providing education and outreach, and conducting fair housing investigations across Arkansas.

In 2019, Jason assisted a group of tenants who immigrated from the Marshall Islands in bringing an administrative fair housing complaint for national origin discrimination against a Northwest Arkansas apartment complex. After more than a year of investigation and litigation, he helped secure multiple conciliation agreements which provided for nearly $70,000 in cash payments and debt forgiveness to the tenants and required the apartment complex to affirmatively market to the Marshallese community and track racial statistics at the complex to ensure that the discrimination stopped.

Jason continues his advocacy and support for fair housing through his role in developing and delivering courses for NFHTA. Let’s learn more about Jason!

What brought you to fair housing work?

I started at Legal Aid of Arkansas as an AmeriCorps Volunteer Attorney in 2011 in the housing program. At that time, most of the cases were landlord-tenant disputes and eviction defenses. The landlord-tenant laws in Arkansas are heavily weighted to benefit landlords.

For example, there is no implied warranty of habitability in residential leases here, and Arkansas is the only state that criminalizes non-payment of rent. I was frustrated by the lack of tenant protection and started exploring how I could use federal civil rights laws to assist my clients.

My colleagues and I began having a lot of success using reasonable accommodations to remediate substandard housing conditions. Using the Fair Housing Act to show the courts that there is a connection between poorly maintained housing and the impact on a tenant’s disability placed our clients in a better position to get relief that otherwise would be unavailable under Arkansas state law. From there, I continued to explore the FHA (Fair Housing Act) and worked to build Legal Aid of Arkansas’ Fair Housing Project as the only FHIP in the state.

What is the most satisfying part of being an instructor for NFHTA?

I really enjoy meeting new attorneys from all over the country. I try to provide and inspire them with the necessary tools to bring high-quality, meaningful cases in their states and communities. I believe that having highly-trained advocates across the country who are prepared to bring strong cases is the best way for us to put a real dent in housing discrimination.

What is one piece of advice you have for a new practitioner working in fair housing?

It is crucial to understand the forums – state or local FHAP administrative, private action in federal or state court, HUD administrative, and Department of Justice enforcement – in which to bring fair housing cases. Each forum has its own set of requirements that are in play, and it is valuable to be able to identify which would offer the greatest advantages for a specific case in your state or region.

Having a firm understanding of the pros and cons for the forums can also be beneficial because the opposing counsel might not fully understand these intricacies. This ultimately will give your client the upper hand.

What is the most emergent issue that you see within fair housing and fair lending now?

I don't know if it is necessarily an emergent issue, but sexual harassment is one of the most prevalent issues we have seen in the last couple of years, both before and during the pandemic. The egregiousness and frequency of these complaints have been really eye-opening to me. With that in mind, I would encourage people to really dive in when this type of complaint gets filed with their office.

For a variety of reasons, sexual harassment is wildly under-reported, and the investigation must be handled sensitively and thoroughly. We have found our relationships with other community-based service providers to be pivotal in learning of alleged harassment and being able to investigate effectively and efficiently.

As a leader and voice in the FHIP community, what advice do you have to strengthen partnerships with FHAPs?

I think a lot of times, and even with other service providers in the same community, just getting to know each other and developing a deeper understanding of what everyone does can go a long way. One thing we have found successful is to hold an annual fair housing enforcement forum. Our attorneys get together with staff from the FHAPs and HUD and discuss the fair housing issues they are seeing. We also talk about the pressure points on enforcement in Arkansas and strategize on ways to improve the systems that routinely get bottlenecked, stopping issues from moving forward. That really helps everyone get to know one another, and we are able to discuss what is and is not working.

I would also encourage you to include the local legal services programs in these conversations. Ultimately, fair housing enforcement takes place through a network of organizations, and your organization isn’t alone. It takes the whole housing community working together to stop housing discrimination.

Cashauna Hill
Jason Auer, Esq.

Fair Housing Project Director
Legal Aid of Arkansas

View Jason's Bio

Pro Tips for FHIPs and FHAPs: Utilizing the Improved NFHTA Searchable Resource Library

NFHTA aspires to be a trusted resource for fair housing practitioners. The goal is for people to find the information they need and develop the skills required to pursue housing equality for all in their communities. In addition to offering the Instructor Led Courses and National Fair Housing Forums, NFHTA also recently released an improved searchable resource library containing resources curated to meet the daily needs of FHIPs and FHAPs. Below are some of the key features of this extensive, comprehensive, carefully curated, and easily accessible collection of resources.

Reliable Sources

The resources available in the NFHTA Searchable Resource Library have been vetted to ensure relevance and accuracy. Prior to a resource being added to the library, it is reviewed by NFHTA’s faculty. Anyone accessing the library can rest assured knowing that they are getting current and relevant information.

User-friendly Setup with Different Search Features

The NFHTA Searchable Resource Library has been re-designed to enhance your experience. You can filter, toggle through, and search specific topics and resources easily finding the resources you need and while also discovering other relevant or related resources.

Opportunity to Expand the Number of Resources

The NFHTA Searchable Resource Library is dynamic and will continue to evolve with the needs of the fair housing community. As issues emerge, precedents are set, standards updated, and new materials developed to further the pursuit of housing equality, the NFHTA Searchable Resource Library will continue to expand to support the needs of FHIPs and FHAPs.

View Resource Library

In Case You Missed It...

Now Available: April and June National Fair Housing Forum Materials

Bridging the Racial Homeownership Gap: Special Purpose Credit Programs

April Fair Housing Forum Recording

On April 20, 2022, NFHTA hosted the National Fair Housing Forum: Bridging the Racial Homeownership Gap: Special Purpose Credit Programs.

This forum focused on Special Purpose Credit Programs and how they can be used to advance homeownership for underserved populations.

View the Forum Materials

Meaningful Collaboration to Advance Housing Equity: A June Homeownership Event

June Fair Housing Forum Recording

On June 15, 2022, NFHTA hosted the National Fair Housing Forum: Meaningful Collaboration to Advance Housing Equity: A June Homeownership Event.

This forum discussed how local community organizations and individuals can connect the dots to ensure the American Dream for our neighbors.

View the Forum Materials

Upcoming Events

Upcoming Courses

Register Now | Basics of Fair Housing

July 25-28, 2022 | 1:00 PM – 4:00 PM ET

Register Now | Fundamentals of Fair Housing - Intake

August 8-11, 2022 | 1:00 PM – 4:00 PM ET

Register Now | Litigating Fair Housing Cases

August 23, 25, 30, September 1, 2022 | 1:00 PM–4:00 PM ET

National Fair Housing Forums

Register Now | July National Fair Housing Forum

July 20, 2022 | 2:00 PM–4:00 PM ET

Save The Date | September National Fair Housing Forum

September 21, 2022 | 2:00 PM–4:00 PM ET

Academy Event Calendar

Are you interested in learning more about what NFHTA offers? View the full Academy Event Calendar to learn more about NFHTA courses and events designed to help build the knowledge, skills, and capacity of HUD’s FHIP and FHAP organization partners.

View the full Academy Calendar