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Housing Discrimination is Not Tolerated in Texas (4/17/2015)

AUSTIN – In recognition of Fair Housing Month, Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller and the Texas Department of Agriculture (TDA) reminds the public that every Texan has a right to be treated equally when trying to buy, finance or rent a home or apartment under the Fair Housing Act, and discrimination in Texas will not be tolerated. To emphasize the importance of fair housing rights, TDA recognizes and celebrates April as Fair Housing Month in the Lone Star State.

“It is important that every Texan have the same opportunity and receive the same treatment as their neighbor when trying to secure housing for themselves and their family,” Commissioner Miller said. “It doesn’t matter where you are from or what your background is, everyone has the right to equality.”

Through its Office of Rural Affairs and the Texas Community Development Block Grant (TxCDBG) program, TDA administers grant funding given by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Grant funds are used to further HUD’s national program objectives of benefiting low or moderate income persons, eliminating or preventing slums or blight, and meeting emergency needs.   

Throughout the coming months, TDA will periodically showcase the great work being done in local Texas communities on our website, TexasAgriculture.gov. Take Hidalgo County for example: The county has taken steps to proactively ensure that fair housing and other federal protections are given to every member of their community. In Hidalgo County, every year during the first week of April, the community celebrates National Community Development Week. During this week, community partners come together to discuss opportunities and provide outreach about fair housing laws and protections. 

Additionally, Hidalgo County issues a yearly proclamation that declares April as Fair Housing Month. The county also works to ensure its citizens are informed about its first-time homebuyer and housing rehabilitation programs. As a result, Hidalgo County recently qualified for TxCDBG funding for public sewer services for those citizens whose homes lacked public water. Nearly 320 households in Hidalgo County now have running water and public sewage services for the first time ever due to TDA’s TxCDBG funding.

“Many of our rural Texas communities are in desperate need of major infrastructure upgrades,” Commissioner Miller said. “TDA helps such communities by granting funding or providing technical assistance for important community development projects.” 

TDA’s Office of Rural Affairs awards more than $60 million annually to rural communities. Each year, these awards are used for basic infrastructure projects such as water/wastewater facilities, street improvements, drainage projects, housing rehabilitation and economic development opportunities for communities in compliance with federal, state and local directives. In order to be eligible for TxCDBG funding, a community must have local ordinances and policies in place that do not create barriers to housing choice and comply with the federal fair housing laws.