Housing center’s annual luncheon features civil rights pioneer


The Fair Housing Center of West Michigan is holding its 26th Luncheon and Workshop Series on Thursday from 8 a.m. until 1 p.m. in the Crowne Plaza Hotel and Conference Center at 5700 28th St. SE.

This year’s annual event will honor the 45th anniversary of the Fair Housing Act with civil rights icon Carlotta Walls LaNier as the keynote speaker. LaNier was the youngest of nine students who boldly integrated Little Rock High School in 1957, when segregation was the law of the land in Arkansas.

LaNier will recount her personal experiences of those days and share her thoughts on today’s civil rights movement following the luncheon.

The event will also feature three three-hour workshops. All begin at 8:45 a.m.

The first will examine the difficulties that seniors with physical ailments and mental disabilities have when they try to hold on to their homes or find new places to live. Professor Michael Seng, of the John Marshall Law School Fair Housing Legal Support Center and Clinic; Kim Cross, COO of Dwelling Place of Grand Rapids; and Melissa Owens, director of sales and marketing for Elmcroft Senior Living, are the workshop’s panelists.

The Kent County Senior Millage is providing the financial support for the workshop.

The second will look at the relationship housing has with education. The theory is putting the two together, which isn’t often done, leads to a more sustainable community. Deborah McCoy, executive director of the Center for Cities and Schools at UC Berkley; Wendy Falb, president of the Grand Rapids Public Schools Board of Education; and Eric Williams, former GR city commissioner and current executive director of equity affairs at Grand Rapids Community College, will lead the discussion.

The third will delve into the problems that surface for a neighborhood when bank-owned homes, gained through foreclosure actions, are not properly maintained. Shana Smith, president & CEO of the National Fair Housing Alliance; Peter Romer-Friedman, an associate with Cohen Milstein; and Gabe Chapla, a tester at the Fair Housing Council, will be the session’s panelists.

Tickets are $45 for the luncheon and a workshop, and $30 for the luncheon only or a workshop only. A ticket discount is available to students, seniors, nonprofits and those who are suffering from a financial hardship. Call FHCWM at (616) 451-2980 for details on the discounted prices.

Reservations can be made by going to client.grcmc.org/fhcwm/eventregistration/7. More information on the luncheon and workshop series is at fhcwm.org/lws.

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