HUD Officials to Be on Hand for Symposium on Housing; MORTGAGE ISSUES the "Passport to Fair Housing" Workshop Will Discuss Predatory Lending and Discrimination

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Byline: DEIRDRE CONNER

Top officials at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and experts in the foreclosure field will headline a housing symposium on Saturday.

The city-sponsored "Passport to Fair Housing" includes workshops for consumers and industry professionals on housing discrimination and predatory lending. It is free and open to the public, but advance registration is required.

With the economy's tailspin tied directly to housing and mortgage issues, the symposium is drawing big names. Speakers will include Bryan Greene, a top HUD deputy in Washington, as well as April Charney and Lynn Drysdale, nationally recognized foreclosure and consumer attorneys who work for Jacksonville Area Legal Aid.

The all-day event will feature workshops on topics including:

- Affordable housing

- Disability and public accommodations

- Predatory lending

- Foreclosure

- Reverse mortgages, and

- Updates to the Fair Housing Act.

The Fair Housing Act makes it illegal to discriminate in housing based on families with children, race, color, national origin, religion, disability, or sex. For example, people with a service animal or seeing-eye dog cannot be banned from an apartment because the landlord does not allow pets.

Although the law has been around since 1968, claims based on it remain steady, especially for people with disabilities, said David Cronin, manager of Jacksonville Area Legal Aid's Fair Housing Advocacy Center.

"That is the fastest-growing nature of our complaints," Cronin said.

People who can't make the workshop can still get help, Cronin said. The nonprofit organization helps represent low-income people in housing matters, such as foreclosure, discrimination, evictions and other issues.

People with fair housing problems can also contact the Jacksonville Human Rights Commission. …

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