Opened in June 2012, the High Plains Fair Housing Center is a non-profit organization based in Grand Forks that ensures equal access to fair housing in North Dakota and surrounding areas. Through outreach, enforcement and education, the Center aims to raise public awareness of the federal and state fair housing laws.
“As our state’s population continues to grow, we are seeing many new housing providers and renters,” said Michelle Rydz, High Plains Fair Housing Center executive director. “It is important for us to get our information out there. If people know the rules, they won’t break them.”
The Center presents community educational seminars to renters, landlords, and property managers, holds workshops, distributes publications on fair housing, and collaborates with other organizations to provide training. When necessary the center will do testing to determine if there is a pattern of discrimination.
In addition to providing education, the Center works as an advocate, assisting people who believe they have experienced discrimination (including race, color, national origin, religion, gender, familial status, physical or mental disability, age, marital status and receipt of public assistance) while attempting to rent or purchase housing.
If appropriate, the Center will provide assistance in filing a discrimination complaint with the North Dakota Department of Labor, the state agency that is responsible for receiving and investigating complaints under both federal and state law.
“Partnering with the Department of Labor allows us to advocate, while they enforce. Together we help resolve issues and assist victims,” said Rydz.