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Monday, April 15
The Indiana Daily Student

Real estate agents take a stand against housing discrimination in N.W. Indiana

GARY – A group of real estate agents is taking a stand against racism in housing in northwestern Indiana at a time when discrimination complaints nationally are rising.\nThe action by the Greater Northwest Indiana Association of Realtors comes a year after complaints that one real estate agent had played on prejudices when she suggested to some Merrillville homeowners that they consider selling their homes by incorrectly saying the area might become part of Gary.\nThe group pledged Wednesday that its 2,800 members will provide equal opportunity to all persons in the sale or purchase of a home.\n“We believe that diversity is a wellspring of strength, which is important to the future of northwest Indiana,” said Thelma Nolan, the association’s president.\nThe number of housing discrimination complaints nationwide logged by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development rose 12 percent last year to 10,328, their highest level since the agency began tracking them in 1990.\nThe Realtors adopted a code on inclusiveness developed by the Race Relations Council of Northwest Indiana, which works to fight racism in the region.\nDarren Washington, co-chairman of the council, said the two groups came together after a Lake County real estate agent last year distributed letters to homeowners in northern Merrillville suggesting they sell their properties because the city of Gary planned to annex their neighborhoods. Gary and Merrillville officials complained, the agent was fired and the state attorney general’s office suspended her license.\nThe letter reminded some of a racially divisive period in the late 1960s and early 1970s that spurred the flight of white residents from Gary to Merrillville and other suburban communities.\nWashington said real estate agents should treat every neighborhood in the region equally and not suggest some are safer or better than others. Some agents urge their clients to buy homes in suburban areas because they earn higher commissions, despite Gary having some high-end houses, he said.\n“At a time when property taxes are a burden for businesses and homeowners in the cities of Gary, Hammond and East Chicago, the commitment to inclusiveness by the Greater Northwest Indiana Association of Realtors will be an asset to the development of all of our communities,” Washington said.

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