Get to Know: Charmel Gaulden, Crusader for Katrina's Displaced
1 year ago
NOLA housing discrimination persists, particularly with gay, disabled and immigrant citizens.
Charmel Gaulden, executive director of the Gulf Coast Fair Housing Center, has dealt with her share of discriminatory housing claims. Six years after Hurricane Katrina swept across the Gulf Coast, killing over 2,000 people and leaving thousands homeless, Gaulden has had to ensure that people in the region continue to be provided with adequate homes to live in and raise families.
“We want to ultimately be moving away from the discrimination paradigm and moving into the promotion of integration,” says Gaulden. “That requires a lot of work in the fair housing community, civil rights community and HUD.”
When the U.S Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) issued its annual fair housing report for 2010, the numbers suggested that fair housing centers had an impactful year tackling issues of housing discrimination for minorities, families with children, and people with disabilities.
“One of the exciting parts of this new HUD report is that we are not just stopping discrimination, we’re actually pushing things to the next level and that’s a big deal,” she says.
Gaulden recently talked with Loop 21 about her organization’s work in the Gulf Coast and how HUD’s new initiatives are helping to expand fair housing for all.
Loop 21: Tell me about one of the complaints you've investigated concerning displaced Hurricane Katrina victims.
Charmel Gaulden: We have a client who recently had her case represented by the U.S. Department of Justice. She had moved into a home after Hurricane Katrina with her kids and the homeowner, after seeing how many kids the woman had, asked her to move out as a result. They were left homeless after Katrina. In that case, we filed a discriminatory claim on her behalf. Since Katrina, the levels of complaints remain pretty high.
It appears that the majority of the complaints filed are determined "no reasonable cause." What factors are looked at when investigating a claim to determine whether a discriminatory housing practice has occurred or is about to occur?