Michael Griffin, l-r, George Van Til, and Richard Hatcher

Fair housing today is based on more than race

Contributed By:The 411 News

Northwest Indiana Reinvestment Alliance celebrates expansion of 1968 Fair Housing Act

Fair housing today and fair housing 50 years ago was the focus of the Northwest Indiana Reinvestment Alliance’s 50th anniversary celebration of the 1968 Fair Housing Act, held April 19 at the Center for Visual & Performing Arts in Munster.

That civil rights law, signed by then President Lyndon Johnson outlawed racial discrimination in the rental and sale of housing.

Fair housing means more than that today, said Highland’s Clerk-Treasurer Michael Griffin in his opening remarks to NWIRA members and guests. “It promises a sense of community with neighbors, a sense of justice, and a sense of home, a place where we can go, feel safe, and won’t be questioned.”

Those pillars have expanded the reach of fair housing to senior citizens, those with disabilities, veterans, and the homeless. Sharron Liggins, an NWIRA board member has helped bring housing to many in those segments of society. Liggins said her next effort will be to provide housing for teens and young adults aging out of the state’s foster care system.

Keynote speaker, former Gary mayor Richard Hatcher described how his city passed an Open Occupancy Law before the 1968 act. The year 1968 was pivotal in U.S. history, Hatcher said. The Fair Housing Act was propelled by the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King. After sitting in Congress for two years, it was pushed through and signed by President Johnson a week after King’s death. “But today, my city is more segregated than it was 50 years ago.”

Rev. Charles Emery of Pilgrim MB Church, in Gary, brought personal experience to Hatcher’s statement. The Emery family moved to Glen Park, in an all-white neighborhood. “After a few more black families moved in, all the whites moved out. We had the hood, but the neighbor was gone.”

Rev. Emery said it is America’s shame that people of different races cannot live together. He urged the real estate and banking communities to work harder to eliminate segregated housing. “Stop redlining and start lending,” Rev. Emery asked. “In our communities, we deposit our money and can’t get loans.”

NWIRA was organized in 1989. Founding members were the Hammond, Gary, and East Chicago Human Rights Commissions, along with the Northwest Indiana Open Housing Center, Hammond, Gary, and East Chicago NAACP Chapters, the Northwest Indiana Urban League, St. Patrick’s Church, and HMAN10.

Since 2008, NWIRA efforts have been aided by the Northwest Indiana Banker Community Council, an organization of 13 banks and ten community organizations. The BCC provides matching funds to support federal and state grants that support Alliance programs.

In the awards ceremony, NWIRA recognized In Pact’s Herb Grulke and Ray Giacomin for bringing housing for the disabled to Crown Point. Horizon Bank vice president Yolanda Thomas-Davis was recognized for expanding bank services to low-income communities.

NWIRA board member Sharron Liggins and Horizon Bank vice president Yolanda Thomas-Davis

Lake County Community Economic Development executive director Tim Brown, l-r, with In Pact’s Herb Grulke and Ray Giacomin

Michael Griffin, l-r, George Van Til, and Richard Hatcher

Story Posted:04/24/2018

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