The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development awarded $40.8 million to 108 fair housing organizations and nonprofits, including Long Island Housing Services in Bohemia, which received $275,000. This is the organization’s second year of a three-year performance-based grant.
The funding allows the organizat to continue providing a number of services to Long Islanders, says the organization’s executive director Michelle Santantonio. Those services include investigations into individual claims of discrimination, systemic testing in areas with suspected widespread discrimination, enforcement of fair housing and human rights laws, and community outreach and education.
“It gives us the opportunity to let people in vulnerable areas know about our services,” Santantonio says. For instance, “Central Islip, Brentwood, Bay Shore are target areas we’ve identified. That doesn’t mean those are the only ones, but related to this particular grant, those are the areas we identified that needed assistance with predatory lending practices,” says Santantonio.
The categories of possible discrimination include race, color, national origin, physical or mental disability, religion, gender, sexual orientation, marital status, military status and familial status, meaning families with children under 18.
“If somebody suspects they’re being denied equal treatment or opportunity, they should contact us. “We are trying to represent them and make sure their complaint and the evidence is properly gathered and presented,” Santantonio says.