Olympia, Housing Authority extend survey on housing barriers and discrimination

Steve Bloom/sbloom@theolympian.com

The City of Olympia and the Housing Authority of Thurston County asked people to tell them about the barriers and discrimination they’ve faced as they search for housing. And already more than 500 people have shared their experiences through the Fair Housing survey on the Engage Olympia website.

The survey was originally supposed to close Nov. 20, but it’s been extended to Nov. 30 to let more people share their stories. Input from the survey will help prioritize funding for future housing projects.

Thurston County has a home ownership gap of 2,866 households. This means nearly 3,000 households of Black, Indigenous and People of Color would need to become homeowners to close the gap. Still, according to a home ownership disparities report from September, Thurston County is doing better than its surrounding counties.

Federal and state fair housing laws protect people from discrimination in housing based on their race, color, religion, sex, disability and other identifiers. The city has created a tenant protections web page, and the Fair Housing Center of Washington and Northwest Justice Project also have information about protections available.

“If you’ve had an experience or serve our communities in ways that have allowed you to witness experiences, we particularly value your perspective,” said Christa Lenssen, Olympia housing program specialist, in a city news release. “Your feedback can help shape long-term efforts, though we’ve also included resources that help someone facing a more immediate situation.”