This class focuses on a significant and far-reaching federal policy, The Fair Housing Act (FHA), as a springboard to explore many facets of urban life and policy. The purpose of the FHA is to enable all people, regardless of race, religion, disability, national origin, sex, age or the presence of children under 18 in the family (plus other characteristics enacted by states and municipalities) the right to rent, buy and enjoy housing in any neighborhood they can afford. We explore how US cities and towns became segregated as a context for exploring other social policies including, but not limited to, housing, education, health, immigration, zoning, transportation, environmental justice, food security, industrial development, voting and predatory lending. With this foundation, we complete a project with the Massachusetts Fair Housing Center (MFHC). MFHC will use our work to inform their fair housing program. In addition, MFHC will train everyone to be a fair housing tester as a precursor to doing testing for them and helping with the analysis of those tests. In the Spring 2014 semester, students from this class organized, and got approved, a new UMass Registered Student Organization (RSO), Students for Fair Housing. We will help carry on that work. By the end of the term you will have a firm understanding of the implicit and explicit policies that created the ethnic and racial demographic distributions of the U.S., the importance of access to housing of choice, jobs, recreation, etc. and the profound implications of not having access. You will also have the satisfaction of knowing your class work will help inform the work of MFHC and provide you with valuable experience for your resume.
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