Housing Opportunities Made Equal was founded in 1963 by clergy and laity from the Buffalo Area Council of Churches concerned about pervasive discrimination in the Buffalo-Niagara housing market. An all-volunteer organization until 1974, today HOME--with a small professional staff--has nearly 400 dues-paying members throughout Western New York.
THE NEED FOR HOME
HOME is the only agency in Western New York providing comprehensive services for victims of housing discrimination. These services include recording and investigation of reported incidents of discrimination, paralegal counseling, client advocacy to conciliate validated complaints, case preparation for legal action, and emotional support for victims and their families.
TIMELINE: HOW HOME HAS MADE A DIFFERENCE
HOME volunteers working through the New York State Department of State eliminated the most visible racial barriers in real estate sales. Regrettably, covert discrimination continues.
A HOME complaint against New York State ended discrimination in the Love Canal Relocation Program.
HOME used a forgotten 61 year-old statute to win the first damages ever from a landlord who had discriminated against families with children.
HOME negotiated an agreement with the publishers of 27 area newspapers to voluntarily eliminate the use of discriminatory language in classified housing advertisements.
Acting as a special consultant to Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, HOME conducted analyses which prompted reform of the Buffalo Municipal Housing Authority. In 1991 HOME was named to a special HUD advisory panel and formulated what the Buffalo News termed "a master plan for desegregation of the troubled housing authority."
HOME filed the "Code 2" case against two suburban landlords who were using a telephone answering service to screen and steer minority home seekers.
HOME published a new brochure, "Choosing Good Tenants: "A Practical Guide for Landlords" to help good landlords find good tenants.
HOME, which became the most vocal opponent of efforts to restrict group homes and services for the poor, received the New York State Bar Association's annual Public Service Award.
HOME persuaded the NYS Division of Housing and Community Renewal to remedy abuses at the Marine Drive Apartments. In a precedent setting case (HOME v. the State Division of Human Rights) HOME established that fair housing organizations have independent standing under the Human Rights Law.
HOME filed a class-action suit against the State of New York for its failure to protect the rights of discrimination victim as provided by its Human Rights Law. The state was ordered to honor statutory timeframes and to end its practice of dismissing meritorious complaints for reasons of "administrative convenience".
Following settlement of the historic Comer housing desegregation suit, HOME was chosen in a national search as lead agency to operate the Greater Buffalo Community Housing Center.
The U.S Department of Housing and Urban Development presented HOME with a coveted Best Practices Award, recognizing outstanding achievement in fair housing. (HOME was honored to receive a second HUD Best Practices Award in 2003.)
In collaboration with the Buffalo Niagara Association of Realtors, HOME published "Together We Open Doors", a new brochure intended to inform home sellers and buyers of their rights.
The Urban Institute asked HOME to participate in a study to measure housing discrimination in the United States. Meanwhile the "HOME Players" developed a series of presentations to dramatize the impact of discrimination.
HOME published a fourth edition of its 100-page book A Guide to Landlords' Rights, which is now used by thousands of Western New York housing providers.
HOME won a federal contempt action against the Marine Drive Apartments and then persuaded City officials not to renew the lease of management ending a 40-year legacy of discrimination.
HOME published and distributed an Arabic-English fair housing brochure--reaching out to a community which has suffered increased discrimination since September 2001.
The Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity came to Buffalo to present HOME with HUD's second annual Pioneer of Fair Housing Award.
HOME conducted a study of impediments to fair housing within the Town of Hamburg at its request, after which the municipality toughened its penalties for violators of its fair housing law. Additionally, Renters’ Guide agreed to pay $20,000 in a settlement after HOME discovered repeated discriminatory advertisements.
HOME filed a Title VIII complaint against the Town of Wheatfield, which sought to block construction of a 64-unit affordable housing development it had previously approved after some residents raised concerns about the color of prospective tenants.
A HOME investigation prompted federal and state action to alter plans for an exclusive gated community of student housing at the cost of displacing hundreds of minority and older households and families with children.
HOME investigations led to the prosecution of the first source of income discrimination cases brought under Buffalo's 2006 Fair Housing Ordinance.
HOME assembled nearly $2.7 million in public and private support to save a vacant but architecturally significant building at the corner of Main and Ferry Streets in Buffalo, build ten units of barrier-free, energy-efficient affordable housing, and to create a "Home for HOME"--to better serve the thousands of who turn to us each year for assistance.
HOME and People Inc. filed federal discrimination complaints against the Town of Orchard Park, which had moved to block construction of affordable housing for senior citizens.
Construction began on the building located at Main and Ferry Streets in Buffalo.
On February 23, HOME staff moves into its new home. On July 11, 2012, the Mayor of Buffalo and a host of dignitaries dedicated HOME's new offices, as well as Oxford Commons, which provides energy-efficient barrier free housing for ten families of limited income.
HOME turned 50, culminating in a celebration held at the Buffalo Niagara Convention Center on Friday, April 26, 2013.
Working in collaboration with the Erie County Fair Housing Partnership, HOME began discussions with members of the Legislature about an Erie County Fair Housing Law which would create uniform standards in the metropolitan housing market and encourage constituent municipalities to enact inclusionary zoning.
Mayor Byron Brown met with HOME’s Board of Directors to discuss housing issues and HOME’s concept to increase Buffalo’s racial and socio-economic diversity.