Thursday, June 30, 2005

Here's some good news! The National Fair Housing Alliance and its member organizations led a campaign to get ABC to pull a reality show called "Welcome to the Neighborhood" from its schedule. The story is here.

The show created a rule that allowed three white Christian families in an Austin neighborhood to decide who would be their neighbor among half a dozen families. The deciding families made discriminatory statements during episodes of the show and the criteria they used to select their neighbors were in violation of the federal Fair Housing Act and the Texas equivalent.

Specifically, we contend that the show violates the Fair Housing Act by "otherwise making unavailable". The Act does not require a monetary transaction in order for a violation to occur. Any entity that "otherwise makes housing unavailable" because of a person's protected status (race, color, religion, sex, national origin, familial status, disability) is subject to the Act. The contestant families fell into almost all of these categories.

ABC pulled the show after opposition from NFHA, GLAAD, the National Association of REALTORS and others (including my organization and our regional fair housing alliance.

To me, there are still questions. This show won't air but the contest already happened. Who got the house? Who at ABC allowed this show to be produced? Who gave it the okay to air? Will ABC do anything else to remedy the situation? Maybe they could talk about fair housing in an episode of "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition".

Anyway, the good guys got a victory this week.

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