Fair Housing Means Closing the Gap to Homeownership in Delaware
[Fair Housing advocates from across the First State gathered for the annual kick-off for Fair Housing Month at the James H. Gilliam Building in New Castle County, Del.]
Fair Housing advocates from across the First State gathered for the annual kick-off for Fair Housing Month at the James H. Gilliam Building in New Castle County, Del.
[New Castle County Council President Karen Hartley-Nagle, HOND Executive Director Gladys Spikes, Delaware Human Relations Commission Director Romona Fullman, Regional Administrator Joe DeFelice, Wilmington City Council Member-At-Large Rysheema Dixon and New Castle County Executive Matt Meyer pause for a photo.]
New Castle County Council President Karen Hartley-Nagle, HOND Executive Director Gladys Spikes, Delaware Human Relations Commission Director Romona Fullman, Regional Administrator Joe DeFelice, Wilmington City Council Member-At-Large Rysheema Dixon and New Castle County Executive Matt Meyer pause for a photo.
[Regional Administrator Joe DeFelice at the podium.]
Regional Administrator Joe DeFelice at the podium.
[Regional Senior Advisor Elvis Solivan, Regional Administrator Joe DeFelice and HOND Executive Director Gladys Spikes gather before the event begins.]
Regional Senior Advisor Elvis Solivan, Regional Administrator Joe DeFelice and HOND Executive Director Gladys Spikes gather before the event begins.

By Lisa A. Wolfe

HUD Mid-Atlantic Regional Administrator Joe DeFelice joined New Castle County Executive Matthew Meyer and Housing Opportunities of Northern Delaware, Inc. (HOND) Executive Director Gladys Spikes as they welcomed Fair Housing advocates from across the First State for the 36th Annual Fair Housing Proclamation Reading Ceremony in New Castle, Del. on April 4. Held each year to kick-off Delaware's Fair Housing Month Celebration, presentations included Proclamations and Resolutions from Delaware's Governor and House of Representatives, New Castle County Executive and County Council, City of Wilmington Mayor and City Council, New Castle County Board of Realtors and the Delaware Branch of the NAACP. This year's event, themed "Fair Housing: Closing the Gap to Homeownership," was hosted at New Castle County Government Center in the James H. Gilliam Building. Named in memory of affordable housing advocate and the first director of the New Castle County Department of Community Development & Housing, Director Spikes and County Executive Meyer both made references to the importance of continuing Gilliam's legacy by advocating against housing discrimination.

Each April, the nation observes Fair Housing Month offering an opportunity to renew this country's commitment to equality in housing and the critical role the Fair Housing Act has played in giving every person an equal chance to obtain the housing of their choice. On April 3, in his testimony on Capitol Hill before both the Senate and House Appropriations Committees, HUD Secretary Ben Carson pledged his support of continuing HUD's fair housing mission of fighting housing discrimination, increasing awareness of people's rights, and enhancing economic opportunity for all. He spoke of the significance of HUD's only Secretary-initiated fair housing complaint filed in 2018, the one that led to charging Facebook, the nation's second largest advertiser for violating the Fair Housing Act by encouraging, enabling and causing housing discrimination through the company's advertising platform. Twitter's and Google's ad platforms are also under review by the agency.

Secretary Carson commended HUD's Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity team for doing a yeoman's job investigating, conciliating and resolving housing discrimination cases. In the Mid-Atlantic, HUD's Fair Housing & Equal Opportunity team completed a record 78 investigations in Fiscal Year 2018—more than double the number of cases completed the year before (35). Since Fiscal Year 2016, the FHEO team has investigated an additional 237 cases involving Civil Rights violations and negatively impacting individuals living with disabilities.

"I believe the goal of everyone here today is to prevent discrimination in housing from ever happening in the first place," stated RA DeFelice in his remarks. "Much work remains to be done, but our united efforts are showing results—so thank you for the good work you are doing." For more photos of the event, visit the Region III Flickr Collection.