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Posted: Monday, September 30th 2013 at 2:50pm

Disability housing seminar held in Gainesville

By Marc Eggers Staff
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Joya Green
GAINESVILLE – The Disability Resource Center on Woodsmill Road in Gainesville defines themselves as "a private, non-profit organization designed to increase independence, access, and equal rights for everyone through the empowerment of people with disabilities".

They serve the thirteen counties in the northeastern corner of Georgia and focus on removing barriers, both architectural and attitudinal in nature, with the goal of helping those with disabilities live more independently.

On Monday morning they teamed up with Metro Fair Housing Services, located in Atlanta, to offer a free seminar on housing discrimination laws and regulations. The session was conducted at the Georgia Department of Labor facility on Atlanta Highway and was open to anyone interested.

Metro Fair Housing and DRC (established in 1996) share common goals, but Metro has been doing so for nearly 40 years. Metro's experience and philosophies, DRC felt, could provide valuable insight to those who deal with housing and the disabled in northeast Georgia.

But the turnout was light: no one outside of the two presenting groups was in attendance. Kelsey Ustrud, Independent Living Coordinator for DRC, said they had hoped for fifty participants, but it did not work out that way.

"You can beg people to come and you can provide them with information," Ustrud said, "but you can't force people to do anything."

Fair Housing Specialist Lyonel LaGrone, Jr., of Metro Fair Housing Services, immediately put some of the experience mentioned above to work, consoling Ustrud, who has been with DRC for under two years, by explaining, “You don't get people out unless something significant happens.”

LaGrone continued, "If something (discriminatory) happened...and you were to go and file a lawsuit in federal court and have a press conference...the next time you put out an announcement about fair housing training, that room would be packed."

"In this field, what we have found, is that society as a whole is more reactive rather than proactive," LaGrone added.

LaGrone and Joya Green, Bilingual Outreach Specialist with Metro Fair Housing Services, made their normal presentation to the DRC representatives. The four DRC reps were paired up and role-playing situations critiqued by LaGrone and Green were part of the expertise that Metro Fair Housing Services was able to pass along to DRC.

For more information on Metro Fair Housing Services or the Disability Resource Center visit the links listed below.

Link: Metro Fair Housing Services
Link: Disability Resource Center
Associated Categories: Homepage, Local/State News

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Gainesville, GA 30501
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