Santa Monica City Attorneyís Consumer Protection Unit officials said the office has begun a comprehensive campaign this month to improve community awareness of the fair housing laws and to help eliminate housing discrimination in the city.

April is National Fair Housing Month, and this year is the 41st anniversary of the federal Fair Housing Act.

As part of the City Attorneyís Office fair housing awareness campaign this year, a fair housing poster contest was held in which a record number of elementary and middle school students from across Santa Monica participated. Students created colorful works that featured the 2009 theme, ìFair Housing Rocks.î

Nine finalists were selected out of 435 submissions and their posters will be on display in the lobby of City Hall during the week of April 20th. Four of the posters will also be published as calendars for 2010 and will be part of the cityís fair housing advertising campaign. The 2009 Fair Housing Calendars have been available from the City Attorneyís Office since January and are free to the public.

The city has placed community awareness advertisements in local newspapers featuring the studentsí work and notifying residents where they can learn more about the fair housing laws such as the Web site, www.fairhousing.com/.

The Apartment Association of Greater Los Angeles, the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing, and the City Attorneyís Consumer Protection Unit are co-sponsoring a fair housing workshop from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Monday, April 20th at the Santa Monica Library. The workshop is part of the agenciesí efforts to increase awareness in Santa Monica of the fair housing laws during Fair Housing Month.

For information and to register, www.smconsumer.org/.

The workshopís presenters will explain federal and state fair housing laws that prohibit housing discrimination. They will also discuss anti-smoking laws as they relate to housing, families with children, accommodations for tenants with disabilities, insurance coverage issues, and alternatives to litigation such as mediation and the administrative complaint process.

ìFair housing for all is a practice vigorously pursued by AAGLA,î said Lainy Parry, Apartment Association board member and Santa Monica resident. ìEveryone deserves a fair shot at getting an apartment, and AAGLA takes pride in promoting equal opportunity.î

Deputy Santa Monica city attorney Gary Rhoades added, ìThe continuing venture with AAGLA, now in its third year, has helped both of us to reach many more folks with this valuable community education service.î

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