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1999 Best Practices
Success Stories

Program Name: Fair Housing Film
Program Focus: Fair Housing
Geographic Area: Northwest
State:     Washington  
City:     Olympia  

Executive Summary
In 1860, George Bush and his family became the first settlers of Thurston County, Washington. No, Bush was not a distant relative of the past president or the current presidential candidate. The George Bush in question was an African-American who purchased land in Thurston County because he was not allowed to buy elsewhere. With this story begins a documentary titled "Fair Housing in Thurston County."

In 1999, the City of Olympia’s Community Development Department, Thurston County Board of Realtors, Olympian Newspaper and Thurston County Public Cable Television faced a dilemma: What is the most cost-effective and time-efficient way to educate the public and housing community about fair housing?

Recognizing that people today have hectic schedules with no time to view an hour-long documentary on fair housing, the group took a cue from television filmmakers. The Thurston County group produced a documentary that in seven minutes summarizes 140 years of fair housing. In 420 seconds, the story begins with George Bush’s arrival in Thurston County and culminates with the present-day communities.

Researchers at the Olympian Newspaper, a local daily, and the Community Development Department compiled interesting facts about George Bush’s pursuit of fair housing in Thurston. Individuals on the Board of Realtors wrote the script, and people from the community served as cast members. Employees at a local TV station volunteered to shoot and edit the film. Once produced, "Fair Housing in Thurston County" was premiered on public cable television.

The organizers surpassed their initial goal of informing the general community about fair housing. The documentary now serves as a segment of a fair housing curriculum for new realtors. The program’s success may be best exemplified by an enthusiastic comment from one member of the Board of Realtors: "Wow, let’s do a Fair Housing film in Spanish!"

The Olympian Newspaper, City of Olympia’s Community Development Department, Thurston County Board of Realtors, and Thurston County Public Cable Television

Financing: Various Funding Sources

Point of Contact: Ken Black, Phone: 360-753-8198

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Content Archived: April 20, 2011

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