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Housing Discrimination Filings Down, Still High

The positive spin to the housing discrimination numbers for the region is that fewer reports were filed in 2009, than in 2008.

Research commissioned by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development shows 233 complaints filed in Cuyahoga, Ashtabula, Lake, Lorain, and Medina counties.

Jeffrey Dillman of the Housing Research and Advocacy Center, which compiled the figures, says that the last 24 months have seen the two highest counts of discrimination filings, in the past 20 years.

But federal estimates are that less than 1% of people who feel they were discriminated against for reasons of disability, family situation, or race... actually file reports; so the presumed discrimination numbers are staggering.

"Our estimate is that close to 33 thousand instances of housing discrimination occur in Northeast Ohio."

Even `that' annual figure represents a 10 per cent 'drop' from the previous year, and Dillman says Ohio `pretty much' reflects what is happening nationwide.

He says adequate laws to stop illegal practices are on the books - but they are rarely enforced, and simply not a governmental priority.

"There is still widespread discrimination not only in Northeast Ohio but throughout the country, and we think it is well past time that this became a real priority of governments at the federal, state, and local level."

The report recommends enacting stronger local fair housing laws, using federal funds to strengthen commitments to fair housing, and better educating the public about their rights.

Rick Jackson is a senior host and producer at Ideastream Public Media. He hosts the "Sound of Ideas" on WKSU and "NewsDepth" on WVIZ.