AUSTIN (KXAN) — Knowing your rights is critical, to make sure you’re not being discriminated against in the housing market.
The City of Austin’s Civil Rights Division is bringing some fair housing issues to light.
“An increased and the number of folks [saying] ‘Hey, I’ve been in this home renting as a renter for 15 years,’ and all of a sudden, because of the housing market, people are charging, increased prices that are beyond their salaries,” Interim Director with the City of Austin’s Civil Rights Department, Dr. Tamela Saldana said. “That’s not fair housing.”
Zenobia Joseph, an Army Veteran and Austin renter said she’s facing eviction because her complex wants her to switch units. Joseph said she’s lived in her current unit for 20 years.
“It was just well, you can just move someplace else on the property,” Joseph said. “You’re then telling me my rent will go up $150 if I move!”
According to Joseph, her fair housing case is going to court. She hoped to find direction and resources Wednesday at the City of Austin’s Fair Housing Conference.
“There is definitely an equity lens in terms of this particular conference,” Saldana said. “We have seen an increase…in people who are experiencing mental illnesses, people who are needing service animals…folks who are also who are with disabilities, and have not been able to live in their home appropriately.”
Saldana said this first-ever conference is meant to shed light on the problems people keep asking her office for help with.
“Also, we’re seeing increasing awareness of people who have tenants who want to know and understand what their rights are,” Saldana said.
There’s now a directory with various city departments to help people navigate the fair housing process. Joseph knows she’s not the only one trying to figure it all out.
“I’m having trouble representing myself than others are too,” Joseph said.
Wednesday is the 55th anniversary of the Fair Housing Act, a law passed to help to deal with discrimination problems.