If you believe you or anyone you know have experienced housing discrimination, please contact the Orange County Department of Human Rights and Relations at 919-245-2487 or Human_Relations@orangecountync.gov
The federal Fair Housing Act prohibits, a landlord or housing provider, from discriminating against or giving preferential treatment to people based on a protected class — a characteristic that can’t be used to discriminate against or in favor of an individual or group.
Orange County enforces this act through the Orange County Civil Rights Ordinance. The Ordinance specifies the following nine protected classes: Race, Color, Sex, National Origin, Familial Status, Religion, Disability, Age (40+), and Veteran Status.
National Fair Housing Month in April increases efforts to end housing discrimination and raises awareness of fair housing rights. The month also remembers the assassination of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in 1968 and his contributions to the Civil Rights Movement. The Fair Housing Act also celebrates its anniversary during April.
Due to COVID-19, the normal outreach methods, activities, and initiatives have been limited. Orange County’s Department of Human Rights and Relations has increased its digital outreach, placing ads promoting Fair Housing Month in local publications (i.e. News of Orange, La Noticia), as well as public radio (i.e. WUNC), and there are promotions via social media, the department’s Facebook page, its’ website, and now The Daily Tar Heel (TDT).
The COVID-19 pandemic, sometimes called the Coronavirus, has spread across the world. As a result, our daily lives are affected in many ways and we anticipate future impacts. The Orange County Human Rights and Relations Department is educating residents on their right to housing free from discrimination, always, but especially during this global crisis. The virus doesn’t discriminate, but people do. Housing discrimination based on perceived race, national origin, disability, or age may be particularly prevalent during this time. For example, a housing provider might refuse to rent an apartment to someone they perceive, on the basis of race or national origin, to be from an area where a COVID-19 outbreak was or is widespread. Regardless of their fears and worries, denying someone a housing opportunity because of this is illegal and against the federal Fair Housing Act and the Orange County Civil Rights Ordinance. Now, along with Fair Housing Month efforts, staff is trying to make every resident aware of their housing rights, inform, and encourage healthy human relations. They are trying to inform every demographic by imbedding audio public service announcements in multiple languages (i.e. Chinese, Karen, Burmese) on their website. The website also features a link to a video of a public service announcement in sign language for the DEAF and Hard of Hearing community.
Human Rights and Relations staff is currently practicing social distancing and are not working physically in the office, however staff is available to assist residents by phone, email, or folks may contact staff via their website Monday-Friday 8am-5pm.