The Tennessee Fair Housing Council is a private, non-profit organization whose mission is the elimination of housing discrimination in Tennessee. The Council has been operating since its opening in 1995 with funds from the Fair Housing Initiatives Program of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The Council began as a project of the Kentucky Fair Housing Council in Louisville, Ky., and its first local director was Joel Emerson. From its inception to April 2004, it was located in the 100 Oaks Office Tower at 719 Thompson Lane in Nashville and is now at 107 Music City Circle, in the Opryland area.
The Council’s first major project, beginning in July 1995, was the implementation of a $165,000 grant from HUD for recruitment and training of qualified staff for fair housing testing, complaint intake and processing, office support, and administration. In addition, a considerable amount of time and resources was applied toward community organization and education and outreach as it applied to fair housing.
Over the course of the 18-month grant the center was able to do extensive recruitment and training of staff and 20 testers for the testing program. Council staff performed 101 fair housing tests covering different markets of the housing industry such as rental, insurance and mortgage, and covering several different protected class areas such as race, disability and familial status. The majority of the testing program was systemic in nature. However, appropriate testing was performed when complaints merited it. The Council received 47 complaint calls, many which were employment or tenant/landlord related and were referred to the appropriate agencies. All complaints that were fair housing related were pursued and investigated.
In September 1995, the Council received a second grant from HUD to operate the National Fair Housing Advocate Online, an Internet web site devoted to providing fair housing information and resources to consumers, fair housing advocates and housing industry professionals. The Advocate Online was the first major on-line education and outreach tool of its kind.
Since 1995, the Council has received 14 HUD Fair Housing grants and assisted approximately 2,000 families with retaining their housing or securing new housing. During the most recent grant cycle, the Council assisted 413 families with their housing cases, with over 60% of our clients being people with disabilities. The Tennessee Fair Housing Council is often the only agency standing in the way of the family being homeless.
In addition to receiving funds to enforce the Fair Housing Act, the Council has received funding from Davidson County that allows the Council to assist a few families who have landlord/tenant problems.
Currently, the Council serves Davidson, Cheatham, Dickson, Montgomery, Rutherford, Sumner, Williamson, and Wilson Counties for enforcement of the Fair Housing Act. In addition to enforcement, the Council conducts numerous trainings across the state of Tennessee.
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