Every year in April, the nation celebrates the passage of the federal Fair Housing Act. The law was enacted only seven days after Martin Luther King was assassinated, and it remains one of his most important legacies. That work continues in North Dakota today.

Last year, when Fair Housing Month began we had just entered a worldwide pandemic, and almost instantly we were required to work, attend school, worship, shop and connect to the outside world in our homes. The idea of home being a place of safety and refuge has a new meaning. Now, on other side of the pandemic, and we are more aware than ever of the importance of safe, stable housing free from discrimination.

Fair housing is a right protected by federal and state laws. Fair housing means you may freely choose a place to live without regard to your race, color, religion, sex, national origin, because you have a disability, have children in your family, or because you are on public assistance, over 40 or based on your marital status.

High Plains Fair Housing Center is the only organization in the state of North Dakota with the mission to strengthen communities and to ensure equal access to fair housing through training, education, enforcement and advocacy.

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High Plains will be attentive to housing trends to ensure that the social upheaval from the pandemic does not disadvantage persons of color, families with children, persons with disabilities or other members of the protected classes. We applaud the individuals who exercised their fair housing rights in the past year, making access to housing in North Dakota better for future housing consumers. For information about Fair Housing Month activities please contact us info@highplainsfhc.org; www.highplainsfhc.org, 701-203-1077.

Michelle Rydz is executive director of High Plains Fair Housing Center in Grand Forks.

This letter does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Forum's editorial board nor Forum ownership.