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HUD to conduct ‘Fair Housing Workshop’ in territory

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Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA —  At last week’s cabinet meeting, the Governor’s Chief of Staff, Fiu J. Saelua noted that US Housing and Urban Development (HUD) officials will be in Pago Pago for an important workshop on Aug. 29 and 30.

He said cabinet members involved in this workshop are reminded to attend or send representation. He didn’t elaborate on the ASG agencies involved, but mentioned that HUD provides important funding to the territory.

The workshops will be held from 2pm-4pm at the Tauese P.F. Sunia Ocean Center in Utulei.

Responding to Samoa News inquiries, Commerce Department (DOC) official Petti Matila explained that DOC along with the Development Bank of American Samoa and Youth and Women Affairs are key agencies involved in the upcoming Fair Housing Workshop to be conducted by a Fair Housing representative from the HUD Honolulu Field Office in partnership with ASG.

The workshop will focus on Fair Housing and Disability — the Americans with Disabilities Act, said Matila last Friday, adding that this year marks 50 years since the Fair Housing Act (FHA) was originally enacted as Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968, and that FHA focuses on "prohibiting discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, and amended to include sex in 1974".

According to Matila, American Samoa is a recipient of Community Planning and Development Program (CPDP) grants from HUD such as the Community Development Block Grant administered by DOC, the HOME Investment Partnership Program administered by DBAS, and the Emergency Solutions Grant program administered by DYWA.

As a state or territorial recipient of these grant programs, “it's imperative that all key stakeholders within ASG” — e.g. Office of Protection and Advocacy for the Disabled, Human and Social Services and Public Works etc., “as well as the general public are well aware of people's fair housing rights.”

“It's important to know that FHA doesn't just apply to federally funded projects — e.g. Section 1602 apartments/rental homes — but also privately owned ones,” she said.

“Our target audience from the general public are rental home owners or landlords as well as tenants. This also includes individuals with disabilities who reside in rental homes,” she explained, noting that the workshop is open to the public.

As to the expected outcome of the workshop, Matila said, it's “mainly on community awareness and to ensure the general public and relevant government agencies are aware of people's fair housing rights.”

“People need to know where they can file a complaint once they realize they've been rejected from occupying a decent and affordable home due to their race, color, religion, disability, etc.,” she said.