By Kimberly Maroe Public Information Manager
BROWARD COUNTY , FL — Realtors called it a victory; homeowner association members called it an unnecessary burden. So went the way of a public hearing on Tuesday as people from both sides of the issue voiced their opinions about a proposed amendment to Broward County’s Human Rights Act. In the end, Broward County Commissioners moved forward with a proposal designed to further protect people from housing discrimination.
“What we are asking you to do, many good associations are already doing. Unfortunately, some are not, “said Commissioner Dale V.C. Holness.
Under the new rules, if an application for housing is denied by a homeowners’, condo or cooperative association in Broward County, the applicant will now receive a written notice explaining the reason for the denial within forty five days of the filing. Applicants must also be notified if their application is not properly filled out within 15 days of the application date. Commissioners Lois Wexler and Holness sponsored the amendment to the Human Rights Act that was approved by the Commission.
“Disabled individuals, the color of one’s skin, a person’s sexual orientation, the language that one speaks or how somebody may dress really does affect whether they get the quiet whisper,” said Commissioner Wexler. “I have heard the outcry from people that have been rejected for seemingly no reason at all. This request simply fills in the blank to let them know why they’ve been rejected.”
“So many people, who have been turned down for no apparent reason just says, forget it. I’ll go somewhere else, and that person, that human being is denied the opportunity for housing where they choose to live, and that is not right. That simply is not American,” said Commissioner Holness.
“I have heard in community stories about people denied and not knowing the reason why. I don’t feel like an applicant should have to jump through any hoops to find out why they were denied,” said Vice Mayor Barbara Sharief.
“I too am puzzled by the reaction to this ordinance because I think everyone in this room would agree that if you’re going to be denied the ability to purchase or to rent a home you should be told why, and that’s all this asks, is while you’re in the process of denying, then also say why,” said Mayor Kristin Jacobs.
The Broward Commission passed the amended ordinance with a six to one vote. Commissioner Tim Ryan voted in op-position, preferring to defer the vote for further review of the issue. Commissioners Stacy Ritter and Chip LaMarca were not present when the vote was taken.