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Examiner
  • Independence heeds fair housing program

  • At first glance, the title appears as a mouthful of words: Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing.

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  • At first glance, the title appears as a mouthful of words: Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing.
    But the process does break down into steps, and it’s one the city of Independence continues to familiarize itself with, Kristy Lambert, unit supervisor of the Kansas City office of the Missouri Commission on Human Rights, told the Independence City Council Monday.
    It’s especially important for city officials to familiarize themselves with Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing since Independence receives hundreds of thousands of dollars in Community Development Block Grant funds from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Lambert said.
    Funded through partnership funds from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the AFFH is a process where recipients of federal funding – including Independence – must identify the obstructions to fair housing choices in their communities; take steps to overcome those barriers; and keep records of their actions.
    The process is seeing increased enforcement, as well as new proposed regulations from HUD, because of a costly landmark lawsuit in Westchester County, N.Y., in which the county government agreed in 2009 to spend millions on affordable housing units for non-white minorities. The Anti-Discrimination Center of Metro New York had sued 21⁄2 years earlier, alleging the county received $45 million in federal funds but falsely certified it was complying with funding requirements to ensure fair housing.
    The Missouri Commission on Human Rights is offering free, live training on AFFH at the Independence Human Relations Commission meeting at 6 p.m. Sept. 11 at the Truman Memorial Building. The Missouri Commission also is engaged in a HUD Partnership Initiative with the local Human Relations Commission, and Lambert said ongoing assistance through staff training, presentations, housing counseling and other resources is available through the Missouri Commission.
    Throughout August and September, posters will be placed across Independence Center mall to educate the public further on fair housing rights and what it entails, since that is a time of year when many are moving into the community because of the new academic year.
    Through the Mid-America Regional Council, Independence – joining other metro-area cities and suburbs – continues to examine its own impediments to fair housing, as well as how to provide stabilization and quality housing, said Marlene Nagel, MARC’s community development director.
    One of those efforts is the Creating Sustainable Places initiative, which launched in early 2011. The effort, again funded through HUD, looks at how Kansas City and its surrounding communities can create places “that are more enduring, that better meet the needs of our residents and that have the potential to be sustainable from an environmental and economical standpoint,” Nagel said.
    In Independence, she said, the U.S. 40 corridor is getting a closer look, to see how redevelopment might take place in more sustainable ways.
    MARC also points to socialserve.com as a central resource for Kansas City-area residents to find affordable housing for rent and for sale.
    Page 2 of 2 - “We’re talking with the nonprofit organization that operates that site nationally about how to improve the information on it to better serve residents of our metro area,” Nagel said, “including residents of Independence.”

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