By Sarah Olsen, www.VTDigger.org
Mary Brown-Guillory, president of the Champlain area National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), told a statewide civil rights panel Monday that her organization has received an “avalanche” of discrimination complaints.
In the month since they’ve been open for business, Vermont’s first NAACP chapter has received at least 50 complaints. Most involve discrimination, she said, including housing discrimination.
Housing discrimination and possible solutions were the topic of Monday’s panel discussion meant to brief the Vermont State Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights.
Brown-Guillory said minority college students and recent grads have to use a friend’s name to apply for housing because landlords won’t rent to people with ethnic-sounding names. Brown-Guillory said that she also knows of two instances where people were discriminated against for their religion.
“The property owner makes the decision on who they want to rent to and it doesn’t matter what your credit score is or if you are willing to pay six months’ rent up front,” she said. “Individuals do not want to sell their property to people of color,” Brown-Guillory said.
Diane Snelling, chair of the State Advisory Committee, said in an Aug. 3 press release that past reports by the committee to the commission have brought about “significant policy changes” in Vermont and that the committee’s review of fair housing issues is “timely and compelling.”
Vermont Legal Aid recently released data from a study conducted by its fair housing program. The study shows preferential treatment toward white residents without children and without an apparent disability, said Marsha Curtis of Vermont Legal Aid.
The federal Fair Housing Act prohibits discriminating against an individual because of race, color, national origin, disability, sex, religion or familial status (families with children).