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1999 Best Practices
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Program Name: Inter-Agency Collaboration Program
Program Focus: Housing
Geographic Area: Northwest/Alaska
State: Washington
City: Seattle

Executive Summary
In Washington State, several fair housing organizations at the local, state and federal levels are collaborating to disseminate information on fair housing issues.

HUD, the Tacoma Human Rights and Human Services Department, the Seattle Office for Civil Rights, the King County Office of Civil Rights Enforcement, and the Washington State Human Rights Commission are transcending geographic and political boundaries by cooperatively mobilizing resources to fight for fair housing in western Washington State. This "Best Practice" helps to send a clear message on fair housing, and maximizes the benefits for those who need fair housing assistance.

Together, these fair housing assistance program agencies are producing quarterly newsletters that share information regarding fair housing issues in Washington State. Each agency is responsible for covering certain topics or features in the newsletter, so the finished product serves as a synthesis of everything that is going on in the fair housing world on the local, state and federal levels.

"Our collaboration effort uses the team approach to increase the effectiveness and efficiency of our outreach, thereby maximizing the benefit to people seeking fair housing assistance," said Marilyn Akita, an equal opportunity compliance specialist with the Washington State Human Rights Commission.
Representatives from the organizations meet regularly to update each other on current issues and plan collaborative training events. One of the most innovative products of this effort is the training sessions. Because the agencies offer expertise on fair housing issues from the local to federal level, the partnership is uniquely positioned to provide comprehensive training programs that shed light on the diversity of laws regulating the housing industry. They can also provide guidance to housing providers on how to run their businesses fairly and how to make smart, non-discriminatory business decisions.

The training also helps the group to gain a better understanding of pressing fair housing issues facing the community. Karen Peirolo, an equal opportunity compliance specialist with the Washington State Human Rights Commission, says, "In the process of conducting the training sessions, we’ve begun to spot certain trends or common concerns–such as questions about how to handle tenant’s problems with other tenants. Through our collaborative efforts, we can more effectively begin to address these issues and our newsletters provide a vehicle for us to share solutions with Washington’s housing industry. "

The greatest challenge the agencies met when establishing this collaborative effort was coordinating individual schedules, meetings and agendas. Consistently stressing their commitment to the common goal of eliminating housing discrimination through education has been key to the group’s success. Peirolo says that the collaboration helps the partners handle hearing about and dealing with discrimination issues on a daily basis. She says that each agency supports the others, "providing the camaraderie and energy we simply wouldn’t have on our own."

HUD, Tacoma Human Rights and Human Services Department, Seattle Office for Civil Rights, King County Office of Civil Rights Enforcement and Washington State Human Right Commission.

Financing: Various funding sources.

Point of Contact: Michael Murphy, Phone: (206) 464-6361, E-mail: mmurphy@hrc.wa.gov

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Content Archived: April 20, 2011

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