INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – Housing discrimination is a big problem in Central Indiana and the federal government is now spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to combat it.
A recent study found that more than 80 percent of African Americans in this area have experienced housing discrimination. The same is true for 70 percent of Latinos.
Discrimination comes in various forms, for example, banks have been found guilty of a failure to maintain foreclosed homes in diverse neighborhoods.
Both Bank of America and Wells Fargo have agreed to settlements in the last two years for their actions in neighborhoods like the one on the south side where Crystal Kostal lives.
“The one house, the weeds grow up past it,” she told 24-Hour News 8 last year, “and coons live in it.”
Those settlements were reached with the help of the Fair Housing Center of Central Indiana. Amy Nelson is the executive director, who says, “We’ve also filed some cases against some mobile home parks, one of which was refusing families with children.”
Wednesday Nelson’s organization was awarded a $325,000 grant to continue its efforts to eliminate housing discrimination.
Congressman André Carson helped secure the grant. “It’s necessary because the government can’t do it all,” he said.
“This is life and death, yeah,” said Nelson. “We couldn’t survive without this particular grant.”
The money will be used to investigate claims of discrimination like the ones that were uncovered on the south side. It will be renewed for three years, meaning the Fair Housing Center will receive almost a million dollars.
“We need to dismantle a mentality,” said Rep. Carson, “that says minorities should not be a part of the greater society and they shouldn’t be great contributors as it relates to paying rent and being upstanding citizens.”
The Fair Housing Center receives about 125 complaints of housing discrimination in Central Indiana each year. It won the grant in a national competition and this is the first time it has ever received a multi-year grant.