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FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Amy Susan 573-751-1518
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: February 23, 2012

Missouri Commission on Human Rights Takes Message of Fair Housing Awareness to Areas Affected by Natural Disasters
$124K HUD Grant Awarded for Anti-Discrimination Campaign

JEFFERSON CITY, MO – For the third year in a row, the Missouri Commission on Human Rights (MCHR) will be launching the Show-Me Fair Housing Awareness Project (SMFHAP), a public awareness campaign designed to educate persons about the fair housing laws in place to protect them. To date, the SMFHP has reached an estimated audience of over 100,000 Missourians in the southeastern region of the state and will now be focusing its efforts on providing education to those in areas adversely affected by natural disasters, including the Bootheel.

The broadened SMFHAP, made possible through a $124,675 Education and Outreach Initiative grant awarded to MCHR by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), is a direct response to the specific needs of these distressed areas. The SMFHAP is designed to provide assistance to communities that are rebuilding and recovering like Joplin -- after losing 30 percent of its housing units overnight.

“The multiple natural disasters that plagued our state last year resulted in major shifts of housing availability in areas already in dire need of safe, affordable housing,” said Dr. Alisa Warren, MCHR’s Executive Director. “Through the Show-Me Fair Housing Awareness Project, MCHR serves both home seekers and providers by supplying information about fair housing requirements and the benefits of equal housing opportunity.”

The 2012-2013 Project-related activities include an advertising campaign (newspaper and radio public service announcements) and widespread distribution of fair housing literature. In the Bootheel, constituents will be offered an opportunity to participate in a youth poster and journalism contest in partnership with Lincoln University and free workshops and one-on-one housing counseling in collaboration with United Migrant Opportunity Services, an organization primarily serving migrant and seasonal farm workers and food processing employees.

In Joplin, the upcoming free public presentations will provide fair housing information to the community as a whole, with special emphasis on reaching underserved populations, including veterans, persons with disabilities, the elderly, low-income families, and minority populations. An analysis of local policies and laws in Jasper and Newton counties for existing barriers to fair housing choice will possibly identify ways to create greater equal housing opportunities and enrich neighborhoods. MCHR will also develop and disseminate a practical guide addressing ways to affirmatively further fair housing to be shared with government officials representing hundreds of communities statewide, a resource to assist local jurisdictions in meeting their responsibility to further fair housing.

MCHR is an independent commission housed in the Missouri Department of Labor and Industrial Relations. It is responsible for enforcing the Missouri Human Rights Act, which prohibits discrimination in employment, housing, and places of public accommodation because of race, color, religion, national origin, ancestry, sex (including sexual harassment and pregnancy), disability, age (in employment only), and familial status (in housing only). For more information about your rights and responsibilities or the MCHR complaint process, visit www.labor.mo.gov/MOHumanRights or call 573-751-3325.

HUDShow-Me Fair Housing Awareness Project

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Missouri Department of Labor and Industrial Relations

421 East Dunklin Street, P.O. Box 504, Jefferson City, MO 65102-0504
Phone: 573-751-7500 Fax: 573-751-6552