Disasters Cause Low Housing Stock
When disaster strikes, there is often a shortage of available housing. For instance, when the F-5 tornado struck Joplin last May, approximately 7,500 households were destroyed, leaving housing supply limited and in high demand. Unfortunately, in these instances, many property owners’ and renters’ bias come into play and can lead to housing discrimination. When they discriminate based on race, color, religion, national origin, ancestry, sex, disability, or familial status, it violates fair housing laws.
According to Lynn Onstot, the Public Information Manager for the City of Joplin, families that may have been living in the same house for several years have had no reason to keep up with updates to housing laws, and can find themselves lost in the mass of confusion. “I think a big part of it is education,” said Onstot, “making people aware that there are resources available.” To help, the Department's Missouri Commission on Human Rights will be kicking off an educational campaign to inform those living in areas hit hard by disaster about their housing rights. Visit the Discrimination in Housing webpage to learn more.
Additionally, there are fair housing publications designed specifically for those who have been hit hard by disaster. Both publications, Fair Housing Consumer Guide and Fair Housing Laws are available on the Department’s website. If you have questions or think you may have been discriminated against, contact MCHR by phone at (573)-751-3325 or visit the File a Complaint webpage.