Do you own your home or are you sleeping on a friend’s couch? Did you choose your house or apartment because you love the walkable, bikeable neighborhood? Or because the landlord would overlook an old felony conviction? Or because you have a disability and it was accessible?
To take the Assessment of Fair Housing survey is to be forced to think about inequality and where you fall on the spectrum of limited opportunities.
Denver is asking as many people as possible to take this survey before the end of the year. Denver, Aurora and the members of the Boulder/Broomfield HOME Consortium (that would be Boulder, Broomfield and Longmont) have to do this type of survey — it’s had different names in the past — once every five years to comply with the Fair Housing Act. The Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination based on race, skin color, religion, sex, national origin, disability and familial status (whether or not you have children), and the purpose of the assessment is to help overcome historic patterns of segregation and ensure an inclusive community. The responses are anonymized and aggregated and inform a report due out next year that will be one factor in determining how federal housing dollars are spent locally.
The survey asks about where you live and why you live there in a variety of different ways, as well as what challenges you face in keeping your housing.
The survey also asks about discrimination. Have you ever been told a unit was available over the phone, only to have it be “taken” when you showed up in person? Do you feel like “people like me and my family” are welcome in your city or your neighborhood?
When asked to agree or disagree with this statement — “most of my neighbors would be supportive of people of another race or ethnicity moving to this area” — well, I just really hope my optimism is not misplaced. We have more “Hate has no home here” signs than you can shake a stick at.
The Denver-Aurora-Boulder survey is available online through Dec. 30. It takes about 15 minutes to complete, and it’s available in eight languages. Additional accommodations are available by request by calling 1-800-748-3222, ext. 236 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
In addition to the online survey, the assessment will include focus groups and meetings with residents, immigrant and refugee communities, LGBTQ community members, civil rights advocates, affordable housing developers, social service agencies and real estate agents.
Laura Brudzynski, manager of housing policy and programs at Denver’s Office of Economic Development, said the end result will be a series of actionable goals and strategies that Denver and surrounding communities should pursue to create a more inclusive community. She said the ultimate goals are similar to the city’s comprehensive housing policy, which is currently going through the public feedback process before heading to City Council for final approval.
A draft of the fair housing assessment should be available for public comment in February.