Interfaith Action Network Monthly
May 2020

Ready, Set, Action
Springtime is the season of hope and renewal. While it may seem that both are in short supply during the COVID-19 crisis, we at the Fair Housing Justice Center are proud to be continuing our work in the fight against housing discrimination, holding onto hope as we renew our efforts to build the Beloved Community.  Click  HERE  to read our full statement regarding our work during the crisis. And please stay safe out there, everybody!
Below are some educational resources we recommend for you to learn more about fair housing.
  • Even the midst of pandemic restrictions, experts and philosophers are already looking ahead and re-envisioning what our cities and urban areas might look like post-coronavirus. The pandemic has laid bare many of the severe inequities of American society, which won’t be addressed by merely “returning to normal.” For anyone interested in a new vision for remodeling our understanding of what cities can be, our book recommendation this month is Urban Alchemy: Restoring Joy in America’s Sorted-out Cities by Mindy Thompson Fullilove. Fullilove, a professor at The New School and the acclaimed author of Root Shock, uses her unique perspective as a public health psychiatrist to explore and identify ways of healing social and spatial fractures simultaneously. Using the work of French urbanist Michel Cantal-Dupart, she identifies nine tools to create an urbanity of inclusion that can mend our broken cities and reconnect our communities to make them whole. Read more about this remarkable book HERE.
  • As an organization, we were proud to see several FHJC-related videos and podcasts on the National Association of Realtors’ list of recommended educational resources for Fair Housing Month, including podcast episodes of This American Life and Code Switch, and the videos A Matter of Place and America Divided: a House Divided. One new NAR recommendation is The Banker, now available for streaming on Apple+. Starring Anthony Mackie and Samuel L. Jackson, the film is based on the true story of Bernard Garrett and Joseph Morris, two African-American entrepreneurs who sought to financially empower black Americans by buying homes in white neighborhoods for them to rent and offering loans to black-owned businesses. Check out the trailer (and Apple+’s free 7-day trial) HERE.
Time to get out and advocate in your community! Below are some advocacy updates and ways that you can get involved.
  • In this newsletter, we sometimes invite our supporters to submit public comments on proposed regulations. The FHJC recently submitted comments in response to three sets of proposals at the national, state and local level. In March, FHJC Executive Director Fred Freiberg submitted public comments strongly opposing the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s proposed Assessment of Fair Housing (AFH) rule that would dramatically weaken how HUD and local jurisdictions fulfill their statutory duty to affirmatively further fair housing under the federal Fair Housing Act. In his comments, Freiberg stated that if HUD refused to hold jurisdictions accountable for their AFH responsibilities, “…the promise of the Fair Housing Act will remain largely unfulfilled.” The full text of the public comments can be read HERE.
  • In December, Governor Andrew Cuomo’s office announced new regulations, approved by the New York State Real Estate Board, for industry professionals to help combat housing discrimination. In response to a request for public comments on the new regulations, the FHJC and five other New York fair housing organizations submitted an open letter to the Governor’s office January 30th. Co-signed by CNY Fair HousingHousing Opportunities Made Equal, Inc. (HOME); LawNY®; Long Island Housing Services, Inc.; and Westchester Residential Opportunities, Inc. (WRO), the letter praised Cuomo’s interest in combatting housing discrimination, but criticized the specific proposals for not going far enough. Read the full text of letter HERE.
  • At the local level, In January 2020, the City of New York and the Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) released the Where We Live NYC Draft Plan for public review in January, identifying barriers to housing choice in the city, and outlining actions that the city will undertake to affirmatively further fair housing over the next five years. FHJC Policy Coordinator Britny McKenzie and Legal Coordinator Marie Winfield joined Freiberg in submitting highly critical comments, calling the plan “a data dump which sidesteps the purpose of the AFFH rule and the AFH process.” The full comments can be found HERE.
Building the Beloved Community
Want to get involved in the Building the Beloved Community interfaith initiative in some other way? Below are some updates from our interfaith initiative.
  • Tuesday May 5th, is #GivingTuesdayNow, a new global day of giving and unity created as an emergency response to the unprecedented need caused by COVID-19. The FHJC is joining charitable and non-profit organizations across the globe appealing to those who can afford it to donate to important causes in this time of dire need. Click HERE to watch new video appeal messages from the FHJC board and others. To make a donation, click HERE.
  • Houses of worship and faith-based organizations are experiencing a painful paradox during the crisis. Studies show Americans’ faith is deepening during this difficult time, with online attendance at weekly services increasing. But contributions at those online services, where “passing the plate” is done virtually, are down significantly. As we work together to build the Beloved Community, the FHJC reminds our friends and donors to keep their religious congregations, communities and organizations in mind on #GivingTuesdayNow and throughout this crisis. We’ll get through this TOGETHER.
  • While the pandemic has led to increased tensions and divisions, it has also inspired a coming-together across religious divides to unite in the face of adversity. The World Economic Forum website has a fascinating article and podcast about how faith leaders from Christianity, Judaism and Islam are supporting government efforts to control the coronavirus and discussing ways in which the three religions can collaborate on charitable initiatives. Click HERE to read the article and hear the podcast.
“If we want a beloved community, we must stand for justice, have recognition for difference without attaching difference to privilege.”

- Bell Hooks
Fair Housing Justice Center | 30-30 Northern Blvd., Suite 302, Long Island City, NY 11101
| (212) 400 - 8201 | (212) 400 - 8203 |