April is Fair Housing Month. This year’s theme is “Our Work Today Defines Our Tomorrow.” It’s been 45 years since Congress passed the Fair Housing Act. States and municipalities across the nation celebrate Fair Housing Month by remembering how far we have come since its inception. The Act makes it illegal to discriminate against people in housing based on race, color, religion, national origin, familial status, sex and disability.

We have made tremendous strides since 1968, but that does not mean that we stop and rest on our laurels. It is our responsibility to continue to make sure that communities are inclusive. What we do now will affect housing opportunities for future generations.

Enforcing fair housing gives us the right to live in inclusive communities. You may ask yourself why inclusive communities are important. People have a right to live where they please without illegal discriminatory interference. Fair housing includes the right to live in the neighborhood of your choice. It affects the quality of schools, jobs, health care, transportation and recreational facilities available.

We have to make sure the future generations are free of the negative effects of housing discrimination. We can start by educating ourselves and becoming aware of discriminatory housing practices.

Let’s look at a few scenarios:

1. A family with children goes to rent an apartment, and the property manager only shows them apartments in the rear so they will be near the playground equipment.

2. A black applicant applies for a loan, and she is turned away because of poor credit. A white applicant with poor credit is not turned away; she is told about several programs to assist people with poor credit.

3. An applicant for an apartment is told that she can’t have her emotional support cat in the apartment.

All of these scenarios are examples of illegal housing discrimination. It is the goal of the South Carolina Human Affairs Commission to make people aware of their fair housing rights.

Discrimination today is not as overt as in the past. Oftentimes, discrimination is subtle and done with a handshake and a smile. If you believe you were subjected to a discriminatory action, you have the right to file a complaint.

It you believe you were discriminated against, please contact the South Carolina Human Affairs Commission at 803-737-7800 or information@schac.sc.gov.

For more information, contact Raymond Buxton at 803-737-7800; email: rbuxton@schac.sc.gov; or Delaine A. Frierson at 803-737-7831; email: delaine@schac.sc.gov.

Delaine A. Frierson is the Director of Fair Housing at the South Carolina Human Affairs Commission.