It’s been 20 years since New Hampshire Legal Assistance started our Fair Housing Project. We’d like to celebrate by introducing you to two new staff members who recently joined this work to promote equal access to housing in New Hampshire.
Funded mostly through grants from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, FHP provides civil legal aid to clients with disabilities when they need to obtain accommodations in housing situations; defends clients facing unlawful evictions and files discrimination complaints with administrative agencies or in court, among other work. The FHP also engages in systemic advocacy by providing training throughout the state on fair housing topics and by advocating for changes in laws, ordinances and policies that have a negative impact on protected class members (based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status, disability, age, marital status, or sexual orientation).
This year, Liliana Neumann and Victoria Horrock boost the number of Fair Housing Project members to seven.
Neumann joins NHLA as a bilingual in-take coordinator and assistant for the project’s fair housing testing program, which works to root out discriminatory practices in rental housing that would otherwise go undetected. Testers are trained to pose as prospective renters and to report on their experiences which are then analyzed in order to determine whether housing providers are engaging in fair, consistent and lawful practices.
A native of Mexico, Neumann previously worked at Catholic Charities in Manchester as a paralegal, translating and helping Spanish-speakers navigate the immigration process. She originally trained to be an industrial engineer, but she found the work “too dry, and too cold,” she said.
“I have enjoyed my work most when I am able to communicate with people who wouldn’t have known their rights otherwise. I want to help people as much as I can,” she said.
Horrock, a graduate of Tulane University Law School, joins the FHP as a staff attorney. She entered law school hoping to find work in a civil legal aid organization that would allow her to fight for clients fair housing rights.
After her undergraduate work, Horrock had planned on a career in international human rights. Working after graduation with an organization that did development work in the Middle East, she helped handle an asylum case which relied on the Fair Housing Act that inspired her to go to law school.
“Fair housing is such a linchpin civil rights issue that is tied to a family’s ability to choose the schools for their children, to access clean water,” she said. “I just think the Fair Housing Act is really cool.”