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Santa Monica Celebrates Fair Housing Month

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Harding, Larmore Kutcher & Kozal, LLP

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By Jason Islas
Lookout reporter

April 7, 2014 -- From a poster contests to an educational workshop, Santa Monica is ramping up its campaign to educate renters about their rights for National Fair Housing Month.

While throughout the month, City Hall will offer events to help shore up people’s understanding of their right’s as renters, City officials hope that this year’s theme, Making Homes Accessible for All, will draw special attention to fair housing for people with disabilities.

“This year we emphasize the issue of accessible housing for tenants with disabilities because that is the number one topic in fair housing calls to our office,” said Deputy City Attorney Gary Rhoades.

About 70 percent of the 90,000 people who live in Santa Monica are renters.

This year, more than 200 Santa Monica elementary and junior high students submitted posters designed around this year’s theme and nine were selected as finalists to be displayed in City Hall, officials said.

“On Monday, April 7, the students, teachers, parents and general public are welcome to come view the nine posters from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. in City Hall, and cast their votes for a People’s Choice for one of the posters,” staff said.

Of the nine, the top four vote-getters will be published in a calendar and will be featured as part of this year’s fair housing ad campaign that will run in local media throughout the month.

“The students really got into the theme, filling their colorful posters with wheelchair ramps and service animals,” Rhoades said.

Rounding out the month will be an April 30 workshop featuring some of “the best and most experienced” speakers on the topic of disability issues in rental housing, Rhoades said.

Among the speakers are Kathy Bellville, a partner from the law firm of Kimball, Tirey, & St. John; Chancela Al Mansour, Executive Director of the Housing Rights Center; Denise McGranahan, Senior Staff Attorney at Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles; Neal Richman, Housing Project Manager, Westside Center of Independent Living and Rhoades, staff said.

The workshop, which runs from 9:30 a.m. to 12 p.m. at the Main Branch Library, “will explain the laws that prohibit housing discrimination,” staff said.

“A continental breakfast will be provided and library parking will be validated,” staff said.

“All owners, property managers, tenants, advocates, and attorneys are invited to RSVP and attend free of charge,” staff said.

For more information or to register for the panel, visit smconsumer.org.

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