Apart from legal advocacy, educating clients is one of the most important things I do at MHAS. There have been many times that clients have called our office simply wanting to know their rights. Often, they feel they have been treated unfairly, but they don’t know what they can do about it.
This year, MHAS has a grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to provide education and outreach to the community about fair housing for people with disabilities. Through this grant, we can continue the important work of educating people on what fair housing means for tenants with disabilities and what disability-based discrimination in housing looks like. This means explaining what fair housing law does and doesn’t require, and how the law works in practice. We have the opportunity to go out into to community and provide free fair housing trainings to a variety of people, including tenants, landlords, advocates, case managers, and social workers. We are also emailing monthly fair housing tips that take specific situations involving tenants with mental disabilities and break down how fair housing laws work in those situations. You can call our office to request a fair housing training or sign up for our fair housing email tips.
Working for a nonprofit organization that provides free legal services to an underserved community means we will run out of attorneys long before we run out of clients. This is why I think a critical part of my job as an attorney at MHAS is to educate. Education is empowering and it is the key to helping people who want to, or who may need to, advocate for themselves.