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Representatives from Erie County, the City of Buffalo and suburban towns gathered Monday to officially recognize April as National Fair Housing Month.

"This is our way of reaffirming our commitment and to let everyone know we're still here," said Francisco Perez, Buffalo's fair housing officer. The event was held in the local office of Department of Housing and Urban Development in downtown Buffalo.

The National Fair Housing Act was passed in April 1968, one week after the assassination of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Under this law and subsequent state legislation, housing discrimination is unlawful based on race, color, national origin, religion, gender, age, disability, marital status, familial status, military status or sexual orientation.

The Erie County Fair Housing Partnership has worked for almost 25 years to promote fair housing through outreach, education and community dialogue. "One reason we don't have a lot of housing complaints is a testimony to the work we've done," said Steve Banko III, director of the Buffalo HUD office.

The fair housing partnership is promoting a series of activities and events this month, including:

42nd Annual Housing Opportunities Made Equal meeting and dinner at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday in the Buffalo Convention Center. Contact Shannon Koehn at 854-1400 for more information.

Lunch and Learn -- Nondiscriminatory Marketing, Thursday in the HUD office, 465 Main St. Brown bag lunch begins at 11:30 a.m. The panel discussion will run from noon to 1:30 p.m. Contact Joseph Butch at 551-5755, Ext. 5605 for more information.

Fifth Annual National Fair Housing Month Free Movie Screening: "I Sit Where I Want," a documentary filmed at Buffalo's Academy for Visual and Performing Arts, 7 p.m. April 20 in Market Arcade Film and Arts Center, 639 Main St. Call Grace Andriette for more information at 847-0650

Third Annual Western New York Housing Expo, 4 to 8 p.m. April 26 in Belmont Shelter Corp., 1195 Main St. Contact Doug Carpenter at 884-2358, Ext. 168, for more information.

"Poetry Jam -- Across the Lines," open poetry reading on the theme of discrimination from 6 to 8 p.m. April 28 in the Langston Hughes Institute, 25 High St. Contact Anne Huiner for more information at 854-1400.

What We Can Become: Images of Civil Rights History, exhibit by Housing Opportunities Made Equal, April 18 to May 18 in the Langston Hughes Institute. Contact Huiner for more information.


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