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Ending Discrimination in Housing for Veterans is Focus of House Bill

Housing discrimination of veterans is the focus of recently introduced House Bill 768.  Initiated by State Representative Sandra Scott (D-Rex), the legislation would prohibit discrimination against veterans who seek to purchase or lease housing.  “Under no circumstances should a veteran be discriminated against when he or she is trying to buy or rent a home,” said Rep. Scott.

HB 768 would prohibit the refusal to sell, rent or lease housing to any person who is currently serving, or has served, in the U.S. armed forces.  Under HB 768, it would be illegal to refuse to negotiate for the sale, rental or lease of housing accommodations based on a person’s military status, as well as making a representation that a housing accommodation is not available for inspection, sale, or rental when it is in fact available.

Under HB 768 it would be illegal to harass, evict or otherwise discriminate against a veteran in regard to their housing or their status as a member of the U.S. armed forces or to request information about a person’s current or former involvement with the U.S. armed forces.  An individual, bank, mortgage company or other financial institution would not be able to determine an individual’s eligibility for financial assistance based on a borrower’s status or history with the U.S. armed forces.  HB 768 would also give veterans a private right of action against any person who engages in this discrimination, and the person would be entitled to attorney fees and all litigation expenses.  Violations of the proposed law would be considered a misdemeanor of a high and aggravated nature.

“Veterans have paved a way for us to be safe in this world, and we should always treat them with the utmost respect.  We must value our veterans more in Georgia,” said Rep. Scott.

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Home Ownership as Economic Development Strategy for Albany

How do we begin to address the persistent poverty and socioeconomic issues that continue to plague the “Good Life” city?  First, we must look at the numbers to understand how they affect the quality life of educational attainments and health, both physical and mental health, of our community.  According to Welfare information, the poverty rate in Albany is 33.2%, meaning one out of every 3 residents of Albany lives in poverty or 23,632 of its 71,129 residents have reported income levels below the poverty line of $24,250 for a family of four.  The poverty rate is 16.3% higher than the state’s rate of 16.9%, which is almost double.  Albany, and its citizenry, need to address this staggering statistic if the community wants to remain competitive in an ever-changing economic development environment.

Homeownership, as an economic development strategy, is the gateway into the American dream.  A dream deferred needs to happen now, no longer waiting to realize the American Dream, but rather moving the needle forward to reality, right here, right now.  The number of homes that are owner-occupied housing in Albany Georgia is at 45%, meaning that we have work to do to reach the national average of 64% of owner-occupied housing.  Homeownership vitally important to help eradicate poverty. Owning real estate is one of the best ways to raise economic status and increase wealth.

The Albany Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) has seen a steady decline in population over the years, with a decline of .681%.  The Albany MSA can manage the population decline by creating an aggressive strategy to address homeownership and population decline, attract the retiring community and retain its youth.  In reviewing homeownership as an economic development strategy, there are three areas of homeownership to consider: 1st time homebuyers, homebuyers seeking to upgrade, and retirees.  To determine the need, low-income or affordable housing must also be considered.  We will begin by reviewing a proposed economic development strategic planning process for homeownership.

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