Knowing your right to rent

Betty Jean Burton talks about the right to rent. / Jessica Fairley

April is National Fair Housing Month and to kick it off, the Department of Community and Economic Development is teaching residents about discrimination and new additions to the Federal and Georgia Fair Housing Acts.

Up until March, the Fair Housing Act only covered discrimination against seven sections; race, color, national origin, sex, religion, disability and familial status. Now three additions have been added.

"The three new classes is sexual orientation, marital status and gender identification and those are three new ones for this year," says Betty Jean Burton, Housing Coordinator for the City of Albany.

Betty Burton says housing discrimination can't be addressed if people don't know how to deal with it.

"What we're trying to get the people to understand now is that together we have to respect anybody's right to choose to be any way they want. They can't be discriminated against because of their choices," says Burton.

Ausha Jackson with Strive 2 Thrive works with people trying to work their way out of poverty. She says it's important for them to gain some insight about how to address any potential issues.

"Because we work with low income individuals, we found that a lot of them have substandard housing. There's mildew and mold and there are repairs to be made and they don't necessarily know there rights as tenants," says Ausha Jackson, Director for Strive 2 Thrive.

She says everyone in attendance took the meeting seriously.

"I saw them taking notes and I even learned some things that I didn't know as a landlord. There were certain things that I learned as well," says Jackson.

She says now that she's gained more knowledge of housing discrimination; she'll take the wisdom and pass it on.