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April 24, 2006

County Housing Program Enforces Fair Housing Act

April is Fair Housing Month across the United States. The Oswego County Fair Housing Office is joining with many community groups across the U.S. to observe the 38th anniversary of the federal Fair Housing Act of 1968.

“The law prohibits discrimination in housing on the basis of a person’s race, color, national origin, religion, gender, familial status and disability,” said Dona Lee Falciatano, Fair Housing Officer for Oswego County and Coordinator of the county’s Section 8 Housing Assistance Program. “Our agency helps families afford safe and sanitary rental housing. In addition, New York State’s Human Rights Law affords four additional protections to those provided by the Federal Fair Housing Law. They include protection against discrimination based on age, marital status, sexual orientation and military status.”

The Housing Assistance Program is a division of the County Department of Community Development, Tourism and Planning. The office is on the third floor of the County Office Building, 46 E. Bridge St., Oswego.

“The goal of the Fair Housing Council is to educate, promote and foster equal opportunity within our local housing market,” said David R. Turner, director of community development, tourism and planning. “Members of the Fair Housing Council have the opportunity to address specific housing problems and develop creative strategies to improve housing in Oswego County.”

The Oswego County Fair Housing Council was established in April 1991 and is made up of community leaders representing local government, businesses, and human service organizations.

Members are Michele Cusyck, village of Pulaski; Patricia Fox, Family Self-Sufficiency Program; Roxanna Gillen, Oswego Housing Development Council, Inc.; John Heretyk, Oswego County Mental Health; Elizabeth Hirsch, New Justice Conflict Resolution Services, Inc.; Reyne Pierce, Pathfinder Bank; Sabine Ingerson and Joanne Talamo, ARISE; Kenneth Parrotte, Fulton Savings Bank; Mary Vanouse, City of Oswego Fair Housing and Community Development; Paul Vickery, Paul Vickery Insurance; Christine Weaver, Oswego County Department of Social Services, County Legislator Paul Santore, District 16, Oswego; and Falciatano.

Again this year, the council is sponsoring a coloring contest to raise community awareness about housing rights. The contest is co-sponsored by Fulton Savings Bank, Pathfinder Bank and Community Bank. Entry forms are available at the County Housing Assistance Office, 46 E. Bridge St., Oswego, and on-line at www.oswegocounty.com/planning. Savings bonds will be awarded to the top three winners in each category. Entries are due by May 15.

For more information, call the Oswego County Housing Assistance Office at 349-8263 or 1-800-596-3200, ext. 8263.

Fair Housing Council members include (left to right): Joanne Talamo, ARISE, Inc., Dona Lee Falciatano, Fair Housing Officer; Roxanna Gillen, Oswego Housing Development Council, Inc.; Reyne Pierce, Pathfinder Bank; Kenneth Parrotte, Fulton Savings Bank; Elizabeth Hirsch, New Justice Conflict Resolution Services, Inc. and John Heretyk, Oswego County Mental Health.

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