A for rent sign in a residential neighborhood. (Photo by Shannon Cay)

Calling all case managers, service providers, advocates and anyone who works with individuals and families struggling with poverty or who are unstably housed. 

Community Partnership of the Ozarks Housing Collaborative is hosting the Fair Housing 101 event this month to educate service providers on tenants’ rights, how to avoid evictions, how to obtain and maintain housing and about the Fair Housing Act. 

Fair Housing 101 will be 4 to 7 p.m. April 27 at Empower: Abilities, 1450 W. Cambridge St. This event is free, but registration is encouraged because food is being provided. 

Shelby Butler, director of Independent Living Services and Public Policy for empower: abilities and a member of the Housing Collaborative, said they hosted a similar event last year and invited tenants. They were surprised when it was mostly case managers who showed up. 

“We just realized maybe that’s who really wants this information,” Butler said, “because they’re out there working with people.”

Shelby Butler is the director of Independent Living Services and Public Policy for empower: abilities and a member of the Housing Collaborative. (Photo: Submitted)

A representative from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) will be among those speaking at the event. 

The HUD representative will also be on hand 1:30 to 3 p.m. for an event that is geared for tenants

“The (event) from 4 to 7 is really to gear up advocates and case managers working with families and individuals so that they understand how to prevent evictions,” Butler said. “It could be anyone from somebody working with families at a church to somebody who’s a case manager at OACAC (Ozarks Area Community Action Corporation) who already works with housing to maybe somebody at the hospital.” 

“Housing is becoming that thing that is the biggest barrier for people in all situations,” she continued. “Everyone is always at risk of being homeless — if you are renting.”

Learn about tenants’ rights, Section 8

Information will also be provided about housing vouchers, Section 8, how to search for housing that’s within their budget and what to look for, particularly for those with disabilities. 

“The budgeting piece is really big,” Butler said. “When people move into something they can’t afford, they’re less successful and a lot of times more vulnerable.”

Information will be presented about how to help someone repair their rental history and credit, which is among the most common barriers to housing. 

“Evictions are the reason that people can’t get into housing a lot of times,” she said. “Maybe they left an apartment and have a $1,500 balance or they damage the property for whatever reason. And so it’s really hard to help people get into housing these days.”

Butler said about 100 people have registered for the event so far. People won’t be turned away if they don’t register, but Butler said it’s helpful to know how many to expect since dinner will be provided.

The food is being purchased thanks to donations from Hy-Vee and Ark of the Ozarks. 

Register at bit.ly/fairhousing101 or scan the QR code in the flier below.

The Fair Housing 101 event is 4 to 7 p.m. April 27.

Jackie Rehwald

Jackie Rehwald is a reporter at the Springfield Daily Citizen. She covers housing, homelessness, domestic violence and early childhood, among other public affairs issues. Her office line is 417-837-3659. More by Jackie Rehwald