WARREN - There were only five complaints of fair housing discrimination in 2012 in Trumbull County. In the past nine years, there has been a total of 36 complaints, 15 of which were found to have no cause.
It's not necessarily a true picture, according to a research group.
"Some people say, 'Hey look! We must be doing well,' but it might be that you don't have any access to the complaint system," said Robert Gaudin, director of research and planning at Western Economic Services.
About 60 residents and city and business leaders attended a forum Thursday, held by the Northeast Ohio Sustainable Communities Consortium to share preliminary findings concerning fair housing in the county.
Gaudin said in Trumbull County, there has been a 6.6 percent decrease in population from 2000 to 2010, accompanied by increases in poverty concentrations around urban areas. There have also been investments in small business through loans in the same general areas.
Another factor influencing fair housing is the amount of unoccupied units within the county. While there are about 10,000 units, approximately 5,000 remain open for rental or sale and around 4,000 sit vacant for unspecified reasons. Gaudin also said in the region, about 33 percent of those denied mortgages were black, while 21 percent of Hispanics were denied and 13 percent of whites, from 2004 to 2011.
Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination based on:
Race or color
Julie Green of the Trumbull County Planning Commission said, "Alternatively, it could be that the outreach over the last 10 to 12 years has worked."
Green said the planning commission along with Community Legal Aid work diligently to inform and educate landlords, real estate agents and renters about the Fair Housing Law.
Rich Hodge of Paragon Residential Solutions Corporation also attended the forum. He said he is working with Warren to enforce fair housing laws.
"Most of the problems I've heard are landlord-tenant issues," Hodge said.