Did you know that April is not only Sexual Assault Awareness Month, but is also Fair Housing Month? Though these two issues may not seem to have much in common at first glance, as with so many issues and sexual violence, they are actually interconnected. (It’s also National Soft Pretzel Month, but I am having trouble drawing as much of a connection there…)
The federal Fair Housing Act, first put into law in 1968, protects people from discrimination in housing on the basis of race, color, religion, disability, family status, national origin, and sex. One form of discrimination based on sex is sexual harassment and assault, as they disparately impact women, trans, and non-binary people. Sexual violence is oftentimes used as a tool by predatory landlords, property managers, and contractors to take advantage of tenants, particularly poor women and women of color. These perpetrators are particularly frightening for victims, as they may have copies of their keys, the power to raise their rent, or to evict them. As always, these behaviors are about power and control, and can make a tenant feel fearful, trapped, and ashamed.
A home is a sacred and personal space where everyone has the right to feel safe. Having a roof over one’s head is a top priority, and unsafe or unstable housing situation has an impact on all other areas of a survivor’s life.
To learn more about fair housing law and how it affects survivors of sexual violence in housing, join LaFASA and the Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center for a 3-hour training on March 29th in New Orleans and April 5th in Monroe.