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Fair Housing Committee looking for members

SALISBURY — Applications are rolling in for the city’s newly formed Fair Housing Committee.

At its meeting Tuesday, the City Council will approve members to join the committee. Its first goal will be updating an “analysis of impediment,” which looks at fair housing in the city. The analysis is in compliance with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

The committee will have members from the city’s Housing Advocacy Commission, Human Relations Council and Salisbury Community Development Corp., along with seven members appointed by the City Council.

Anne Little, the city’s human relations manager, said residents can fill out a survey about fair housing and apply to be on the committee at salisburync.gov/fairhousing

She said the survey will guide the committee as it begins the analysis of impediments.

“Unless we hear from people what the issues are, we don’t know the issues and we can’t do anything to help solve them,” Little said. “We really, really want to make sure that we can hear from as many areas and parts and people in this community as we can.”

Diversity of survey respondents and members was the topic of conversation at a city news conference Friday. Both Mayor Al Heggins and Human Relations Council Chairwoman Liliana Spears spoke English and Spanish to get the word out about the work the commission hopes to do.

City Councilwoman Tamara Sheffield, Housing Advocacy Commission Chairwoman Barbara Perry and Salisbury Community Development Corp. Director Chanaka Yatawara also spoke about collaboration and the goals the committee will have, which include providing safe and affordable housing in Salisbury.

Brian Hiatt, the city’s interim planning director, said the Fair Housing Committee will not just work on the analysis of impediments but also on how the city can respond to fair housing concerns.

“The impediments is a requirement for us to receive federal funds, but this is an effort from City Council to really get proactive,” Hiatt said.

As the committee gets a grasp of housing issues in the city, it can work toward creating an ordinance regarding fair housing.

The last analysis was done in 2014. Little said having an updated one will show how the city has improved and what areas it needs to work on.

“We can hope that, since 2014, some of the issues we’ve done better at or some of those issues don’t exist, and it may be that we have a whole new set of issues, since 2014,” Little said.

Fair Housing Committee members from the Housing Advocacy Commission include Barbara Perry, Greta Connor, William Matthews and Anne Lyles. From the Human Relations Council, members include Stephen Simpson, Susan Lee, Olen Bruner and Liliana Spears. Yatawara will be the Community Development Corp. representative.

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