Fair Housing Contact Service (FHCS) is a local, non-profit, community-based organization that addresses issues of housing discrimination, tenant-landlord concerns, and provides housing counseling for home buyers and home owners. Our mission is to prevent and eliminate housing discrimination and promote equal housing opportunity.
FHCS was established to support and encourage freedom of residence in the greater Akron region so that all persons, regardless of race, religion, national origin, sex, family status, or handicap, can secure the housing they want and can afford in the neighborhood of their choice. Fair Housing Contact Service provides assistance to individuals pursuing legal rights and remedies related to fair housing, offers housing assistance and counseling, provides community education, promotes community involvement, performs research in the area of housing, and assists the professional housing industry in designing, implementing and evaluating programs for affirmative action towards an open housing market in the greater Akron region.
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The Fair Housing Contact Service was borne out of the failure of government housing policy to address the needs of African-American consumers. When African-Americans migrated to Akron seeking jobs in the rubber industry, they confronted a broad conspiracy including real estate agents, bankers, property owners, neighbors and politicians to exclude them from housing, a practice known as segregation. In 1940, African-Americans were confined to living within seven census tracts in the city. Twenty years later (1960), although their population had more than doubled, African-Americans continued to dwell only in nine out of fifty-eight census tracts. At that time, Akron also began to systematically remove, through the auspices of urban renewal, housing units from the only neighborhoods in which African-Americans were permitted.
In 1962, a community group of civic leaders, calling themselves the Council on HOMES, formed to address discrimination in housing. In May 1965, after Akron’s first Fair Housing ordinance was overturned by public referendum, the Council of HOMES established the Fair Housing Contact Service. Working as an all-volunteer organization, FHCS was instrumental in the integration of many of Akron’s neighborhoods. Then in August 1968, when the city erupted in race rioting,
FHCS received a federal grant to open a center to find housing for the poor. This federal money could not be used to target housing outside of segregated neighborhoods. After two years of making little progress on open housing issues, the Board of Directors voted unanimously to return the federal money in order to focus on the pursuit of equal opportunity, FHCS’ original goal in the early 1970’s. National recognition of the Fair Housing work from this prior eventually led to the permanent establishment of a full-time center.
Today, Fair Housing Contact Service works to keep the Akron metropolitan area open for all protected classes. These include race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability and familial status. In addition to investigating claims of discrimination and educating the public on the Fair Housing Act of 1968 and its Amendments, we provide the other housing services to the community. We offer counseling to tenants and landlords, offering mediation services if applicable. We offer mortgage counseling to first-time homebuyers refinancing information to homeowners and senior citizens who may be vulnerable to predatory lending. We are happy to have been serving Akron for fifty years.
In 2015, Fair Housing Contact Service celebrated its 50th year of service to Northeast Ohio. To help celebrate, we shared images of posters, advertisements, photos, and documents that capture the creation of our organization and the spirit of the Civil Rights Movement in Akron.
In 1972, Fair Housing Contact Service was honored with the National Volunteer Award, Group Winner. “Black and White families living in harmony… equally concerned about their children’s schools… and equally involved in the betterment of their community. An idealist’s dream? Not in Akron, Ohio. There, it is fast becoming a reality, brought about by the efforts of the Fair Housing Contact Service, Inc.”
A note written to the Executive Secretary and driving force behind FHCS in the 1960’s, Dr. Julia Saltman. “Am highly impressed with the job you are doing. I happen to be white, living in a several block square “lily white” area, happen to think the system STINKS and am in favor of integration — but unlike you was too lazy to do anything but gripe about bigotry, intolerance etc. Good Luck.”
In 1965, Fair Housing Contact Service was created to help African-Americans find housing and provide education to the surrounding community on the benefits of integration. Dr. Julia Saltman, Executive Secretary, and guiding force during these formative years, initiated the “Good Neighbor Pledge” in which local residents pledged that… “Every person has the moral or legal right to rent, buy or build a home anywhere without restriction based on race, religion, or national origin. Equality of opportunity is basic to the American society and our religious beliefs.”