The Consumer Protection Unit of the City Attorney’s Office has announced a comprehensive campaign for the month of April to improve community awareness of the fair housing laws and to help eliminate housing discrimination in Santa Monica. April is National Fair Housing Month, and it is the 41st anniversary of the federal Fair Housing Act.

The City Attorney’s 2009 fair housing awareness campaign includes the following:

Fair Housing Poster Contest: A record number of elementary and middle-school students from across Santa Monica participated in the annual Fair Housing Poster Contest, creating colorful works that featured the 2009 theme, “Fair Housing Rocks.”

A panel of six judges spent an afternoon selecting nine finalists from 435 submissions. The nine finalists’ posters will be on display in the lobby of City Hall during the week of April 20. Four of the posters will also be published as calendars for 2010 and will be part of City Hall’s fair housing ad campaign. The calendars have been available since January and are free to the public.

Fair Housing Ad Campaign: City Hall will place community awareness advertisements in local newspapers. The ads will also notify residents where they can learn more about the fair housing laws such as www.fairhousing.com, fair housing videos on www.youtube.com, as well as the City Attorney’s consumer-oriented Web site at www.smconsumer.org.

Fair Housing Seminar: The Apartment Association of Greater Los Angeles (AAGLA), the California Department of Fair Employment & Housing (DFEH), and the Consumer Protection Unit are co-sponsoring a fair housing workshop on April 20, from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the Main Library.

The workshop’s goal is to increase awareness in Santa Monica of the fair housing laws.

The workshop’s presenters will explain federal and state laws that prohibit housing discrimination.

They will also discuss anti-smoking laws as they relate to housing, families with children, reasonable accommodations for tenants with disabilities, insurance coverage issues, and alternatives to litigation such as mediation and the administrative complaint process.

“The continuing venture with AAGLA, now in its third year, has helped both of us to reach many more folks with this valuable community education service,” said Gary Rhoades, deputy city attorney. “Over 230 persons have attended these workshops, and we’ve seen firsthand how the better informed owners and tenants resolve fair housing disputes without having to go to court.”

All owners, property managers, advocates, attorneys, social service providers, and interested tenants are invited to attend free of charge. Free parking, a continental breakfast, and continuing legal education credits are available to attorneys. To register for the workshop go to www.smconsumer.org or call (310) 458-8345.