Summit featured Brookings Institute senior fellow Andre Perry, PhD., among others

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – Disabilities, a criminal record, race and geography all play a part in the discriminatory housing landscape, according to many national leaders and officials.

To improve housing access for Black families, Andre Perry, PHD and senior fellow at the Brookings Institute in Washington, D.C., said investment has to be made in Black communities.

Perry spoke to WANE 15 in an exclusive interview at the Fair Housing Summit held at the Memorial Coliseum on Wednesday.

That interview can be seen here:

Investment would reflect the actual value of homes that are nearly always underrated.

That begins with policies and directives from legislators, municipalities and federal and state governments.

It requires the cooperation of banks, mortgage lenders, appraisers and local lenders.

Perry, the author of “Know Your Price: Valuing Black Lives and Property in America’s Black Cities,” was the keynote speaker today at the Fair Housing Summit.

In 2018, Perry published a report called “The Devaluation of Assets in Black Neighborhoods” to include not just homes, but businesses, schools and banks. On Wednesday, he said the commercial corridor in Black neighborhoods needs investment.

Valerie Comenencia Ortiz, a Washington D.C. attorney whose work focuses on eliminating discrimination in housing for people with criminal records, said there have been fair housing practices adopted in New Jersey and Cook County, Illinois that municipalities could use as a model.

The housing summit was organized by the Metropolitan Human Relations Commission (MHRC) and the Office of Housing & Neighborhood Services.

Other speakers included organizers Nikki Quintana, executive director for MHRC; Kelly Lundberg, deputy director of the Office of Housing & Neighborhood Services for Fort Wayne; Dan Baisden, the city’s administrator for the Neighborhood Planning and Activation Workgroup; Amy Nelson, executive director of the Fair Housing Center of Central Indiana; and Tom Crishon, legal director at Indiana Disability Rights.

A panel discussion on post-pandemic evictions included Allen Superior Court Magistrate Brian D. Cook; Shirley Rork, eviction intervention program director for Just Neighbors Homeless Shelter; and Andrew Thomas, senior attorney at Indiana Legal Services, directing the Tenant Assistance Legal Clinic.

More than 350 people attended the event and heard speakers talk about the fact that less than 8% of rental housing in Fort Wayne is considered affordable to households on the verge of homelessness and more than 44% of renters spend more than 30% of their income on housing.