Occupational Therapy students welcome speaker from High Plains Fair Housing Center

fair-plains-housingOn Nov. 15, the Kappa Chapter of Pi Theta Epsilon welcomed guest speaker Kelly Gorz from the High Plains Fair Housing Center in Grand Forks to campus. The mission of the High Plains Fair Housing Center is “to strengthen communities and to ensure equal access to fair housing in the region through training, education, enforcement, and advocacy.” Gorz spoke to a group of occupational therapy students and faculty about the Fair Housing Act and how occupational therapists can advocate for their clients by being aware of housing legislation.

During her presentation, Gorz discussed classes that are protected under the Fair Housing Act in the state of North Dakota. To deny housing rights to someone based on these classes is against the law. These protected classes vary from state to state, but categories in North Dakota include race, color, religion, national origin, sex, presence of children in the household, disability, marital status, and receipt of public assistance.

Gorz also highlighted the aspects of reasonable accommodations and modifications. Reasonable modifications are physical changes made to a living space that increase access for someone with a disability. Under these guidelines, it is illegal for a company or landlord to deny reasonable modifications for someone with a disability.

When someone is being unlawfully discriminated against while seeking housing, that person can contact the High Plains Fair Housing Center to file a complaint against a housing company. Volunteers can be trained in investigating a housing discrimination claim and helping the center determine whether a claim is valid. Overall, Gorz focused on equal housing access and opportunities for all people, and the role of the High Plains Fair Housing Center to ensure citizens are treated fairly.

The Kappa Chapter of Pi Theta Epsilon offers regular inservice education for occupational therapy students in the School of Medicine & Health Sciences; students from all majors are welcome to attend.