Executive Director, Allan Lazo.

A Message from our Executive Director, Allan Lazo

December 23, 2022

This time of the year offers so many endearing and timeless traditions, from cultural and religious celebrations to astronomical milestones, and provides abundant opportunities for gratitude and reflection.

It’s a perfect time to recognize how grateful I am for the hard work, expertise, and dedication to our mission of our team at the Fair Housing Council of Oregon. I’m filled with pride reflecting on the work our team has taken on and accomplished throughout 2022.

There are so many ways our team members are working to uphold our mission to end housing discrimination in Oregon: our enforcement team holding accountable those who violate fair housing laws; our education and outreach team ensuring everyone is aware of their fair housing rights and responsibilities; and our public policy advocacy efforts working to bring impactful change on a more widespread scale.

Our enforcement team fielded more than 1,300 contacts to our office this year and provided direct advocacy, assistance, or information about fair housing laws in more than 280 cases.

Among those cases, our fair housing advocates helped individuals experiencing harassment based on race obtain an emergency rental voucher to be able to move to safer housing; worked with landlords to extend the time available for families fleeing domestic violence to find a safe place to live;  and assisted persons with disabilities in getting extended time as they awaited rental assistance payments or gain access to a parking spot that allowed them equal access to and enjoyment of their housing.

Our education and outreach team conducted more than 200 fair housing trainings and presentations and participated in more than 400 outreach events and opportunities across Oregon. Our traveling “Anywhere But Here” display of the history of housing discrimination, segregation, and exclusion was shown in 10 locations throughout the state, and we distributed more than 6,500 pieces of fair housing information across Oregon. Much of that information went to rural communities in our state as we continue to strengthen our presence in regions across Oregon with team members spread from the coast to eastern and southern Oregon.

Through our partnership with the Department of Housing and Urban Development, our work:

  • advanced our education and outreach efforts related to those meeting the housing needs for older adults and persons living with disabilities;
  • worked to ensure homebuyers, particularly those from communities experiencing inequities in homeownership, were aware of their fair housing rights;
  • helped homeowners’ associations understand their responsibilities under fair housing laws; and
  • increased the accessibility of our online digital fair housing information, including expanding our virtual history presentations to include more examples from around the state of historical housing discrimination, segregation, and displacement.

As we turn the page on this calendar year, we will continue to directly serve those impacted by housing discrimination in the coming year and continue to expand our education and outreach efforts. In particular, our education and outreach efforts will reach out to shelters and transitional housing providers about their fair housing responsibilities and provide information to medical and other providers about how best to support persons with disabilities in asserting their fair housing rights. We also will continue our work to promote more inclusive communities through our education and outreach efforts with local government jurisdictions throughout Oregon.

Our public policy advocacy work in the coming year also will focus on the fair housing implications of statewide housing planning reforms being implemented. These reforms will increase housing opportunities for all by better integrating fair and equitable outcomes into the processes jurisdictions across the state are required to use to meet the housing needs of every person in Oregon.

As the year closes, I’m grateful to the dedicated and caring team members I have the privilege of serving with every day at the Fair Housing Council of Oregon and for the many partners and supporters across Oregon working with us to end housing discrimination and ensure equal access to housing opportunity. Thank you all for your work to build housing justice and create more inclusive communities for everyone in Oregon.