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Resources for residents in Onondaga County who face discrimination


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If you are experiencing discrimination, there are many resources in Syracuse to help.

CNY Fair Housing (315-471-0420) works closely with many of the following organizations and can help identify and solve specific problems. The majority of these organizations do not work exclusively with housing, but they could help if your problem falls into one of these categories.

“We do our best to help every person who calls, which can include providing referrals to many of the great community resources that are out there,” said Sally Santangelo, CNY Fair Housing executive director.

“Help is out there, and it does exist,” added Karen Schroeder, CNY Fair Housing assistant director.

What you can do if you don’t need help, but want to help others

“There’s a lot of ways people can help. We are always looking for housing testers for helping in our investigations. People can sign up right on our website at We have fundraisers. There’s always an opportunity to attend one of our fundraisers or donate to help support the cause as well. People can always spread the word,” Santangelo said.

Housing testers role-play as renters looking for a place, and try to determine if there’s discrimination at play based on how landlords treat them and the answers they get.

CNY Fair Housing hosts an annual fundraiser. This year was the 4th annual Bird Houses for Fair Housing Auction and Reception.

In 2014, the event raised $7,000 at the auction.

All about ARISE

One specific organization that CNY Fair Housing works closely with is ARISE Child & Family Service. ARISE, a nonprofit based in Syracuse, works to make sure “everyone, regardless of disability, has the power to make life choices and achieve their dreams.”

Phil Prehn, statewide system advocate at ARISE, said the objective is to help people overcome the barriers that keep them from living in the community and living an independent life.

Prehn has worked at ARISE for less than a year, but has been involved in housing in the Syracuse area for more than 20 years.

Prehn said he’s been been temporarily stalled on one goal: getting a law passed that would ban landlords from refusing tenants who receive federal Section 8 subsidies that pay two-thirds of their rent. Almost 4,000 people receive Section 8 in this area. Right now, neither the city nor the county has a law banning discrimination based on Section 8. It’s legal to do so.

In the meantime, finding affordable housing for Syracuse residents is Prehn’s main focus.

“It’s exceedingly difficult for people to find housing that’s both accessible and affordable,” Prehn said.

Two- or three-year waiting lists make finding a place to live tiring and time-consuming. Some people are forced to rely on shelters. ARISE tries to help seniors stay out of nursing homes and live independently, but sometimes that’s just not feasible.

Prehn said it is important to address housing issues as individuals and as a society.

“I think you have to do both,” he said. “You can’t just turn away from people who are having real serious problems. They’ll be homeless. We’re struggling to try and reduce that in our community. But in order to make a real long-term solution, you have to start engaging the institutions that are doing this.”

Max AntonucciResources for residents in Onondaga County who face discrimination
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