Sunday, April 23, 2006

Rights groups will test fair housing practices
Agencies to scrutinize offerings to ensure minorities get equal access in county.
George Hunter / The Detroit News

To get involved
Training will begin Saturday.
Those who are selected will receive $25 per visit, along with compensation for mileage.
For information about the program or to register for training, call (248) 253-1548.

Two civil rights agencies say they are joining forces to ensure minorities, senior citizens and other groups are given equal access to housing opportunities in Macomb County.
The Macomb Ministerial Alliance and the Legal Aid and Defender Fair Housing Center soon will begin training people to pose as potential renters, to see whether landlords are discouraging some groups from renting apartments.
The program is funded by a three-year grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Legal Services Corp. and the United Way as part of an initiative to end housing discrimination in Metro Detroit.
People of all races and ages are being recruited for the program, said Ministerial Alliance spokesman Gregory Murray.
"This is a big problem, not only for minorities, but for seniors and people of low income," Murray said.
"What we will do is send two people of different ethnicities to inquire about the availability of an apartment, condo or other rental unit.
"If a black person, or an elderly person, is turned down, and another person is not, and both people had the same kind of qualifications, then we'll know there's likely discrimination going on," Murray said.
If a landlord is found to be discriminatory, federal sanctions could be levied by HUD, said Michelle Johnson, director for the Legal Aid and Defender Fair Housing Center, which covers Macomb and Oakland counties.
The National Fair Housing Alliance released a report last week that found that in Detroit and 11 other cities nationwide, 87 percent of agents it tested directed African-American customers toward mostly black neighborhoods and white customers toward mostly white areas -- an illegal practice known as steering.
The group sent people of varying races to real estate offices in Metro Detroit, then measured any differences in the way each group was treated. It found that agents showed white customers homes mainly in the Grosse Pointes, but showed black customers with similar backgrounds homes in Detroit.
The Michigan Association of Realtors wants to begin voluntary tests to determine if Realtors are treating customers differently based on their race. The group also is considering asking lawmakers to require Realtors in Michigan to receive regular training on the laws that prohibit housing discrimination.
You can reach George Hunter at (586) 468-7396 or

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Macomb and St. Clair County Real Estate Update

St. Clair County - The Blue Water Area

Experience Marine City The HEART of the Blue Water Area

Known for the amazing blue waters of Lake Huron and The St. Clair River, the Blue Water Area boasts all-season recreation, many unique and historical communities and a small-town family lifestyle with close proximity to big city amenities.
Located in southeastern Michigan 60 miles northeast of Detroit via Interstate Highway I-94 and 60 miles east of Flint via Interstate Highway I-69, St. Clair County is home to one of Michigan's oldest settlements, Michigan's oldest lighthouse and Michigan's last operational lightship.
The Blue Water Area's love of the water is apparent along the 33 miles of the St. Clair River scenic shoreline. Riverfront communities of Port Huron, St. Clair, Marysville, Marine City and Algonac offer a recreational water wonderland and are virtually a boating and fishing paradise.
Ship watching is the Blue Water Area's top, unique attraction for visitors and residents alike. Large ocean-going freighters pass through the narrow channel where Lake Huron flows into the St. Clair River more than 29,000 times each year, carrying more tonnage than what passes through the Suez and Panama Canals combined. These majestic giants, measuring up to 1,003 feet in length, pass so close; you can almost reach out and touch them. In addition, hundreds of brightly colored sailboats and sporty powerboats dot the waterways and horizon from May through October, adding to the picturesque beauty of the Blue Water Area.

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