Wisconsin Fair Housing Network: Statewide Fair Housing Awards presented

Contact: Dan Stotmeister, 414-324-8022


Annual Fair Housing Awards were presented on Wednesday, July 13, 2016 during the statewide A Home For Everyone Conference of the The Wisconsin Collaborative for Affordable Housing and the Wisconsin Fair Housing Network, held at the Paper Valley Hotel and Conference Center in Appleton, Wisconsin. Two fair housing awards were presented from nominations submitted in response to a statewide solicitation to over 400 organizations. One additional award was presented for special achievement

A Fair Housing Individual Award was presented to Linette Rhodes, a Grants Administrator with the Community Development Division of the City of Madison Department of Planning and Development for her outstanding contribution toward eliminating barriers to fair housing choice in Wisconsin. In her current position with the City of Madison Ms. Rhodes was honored for her work in identifying racial disparities in various community development areas and working with local organizations to address them. This includes the development of a Spanish language version of a financial educational program designed to improve Hispanic households’ credit scores and obtaining some funding for it; the creation of a Housing & Financial Stability Program with a focus on increasing use of the city homeownership programs by households of color; and helping to ensure that homeless single females with children had everything needed to move into apartments. This award also recognized Lynette Rhodes’ previous work as an Affordable Housing Specialist at Anchor Bank, where she often went beyond the call of duty to find down payment assistance to enable low-income families to achieve homeownership.

A Fair Housing Organization Award was presented to Accessible Space, Inc., a nationwide, non-profit housing and service provider for adults with physical disabilities as well as seniors, headquartered in St. Paul, Minnesota. Specifically, the award recognizes the positive housing and services provided by Accessible Space, Inc., for its two developments in Hudson, Wisconsin, St. Croix County, known as Tribute Commons and Heirloom Court. The former provides 19 affordable and accessible 1 & 2 bedroom apartments for persons with physical disabilities. The latter consists of 31 affordable and accessible apartments for older persons. More generally, the award recognizes the work Accessible Space performs through its advertising and outreach in recruitment of persons of color as well as non-minorities to its housing complexes through its national program. Accepting the award for Accessible Space was Mr. Ken Berry, Director of Property Management and Section 504 Coordinator.

A Fair Housing Special Recognition Award was presented to Margaret Bowitz, Director of Case Management and Training Services, Metropolitan Milwaukee Fair Housing Council (MMFHC). Ms. Bowitz has devoted over thirty years to advancing equal housing opportunity in Wisconsin. Since joining the MMFHC in 1984, Margaret has conducted intake of housing discrimination complaints from over 5200 people. She has also provided comprehensive fair housing training to over 11,000 housing providers involving tens of thousands of housing units, ensuring that housing providers have the information they need to provide housing on an equal-opportunity basis. Comments by Nationally known fair housing experts, on Ms. Bowitz’s achievements, include: “Margaret is simply the best housing discrimination complaint intake person in the country;” “Margaret doesn’t sugar-coat anything, but she has a kind manner that helps complainants persevere in sometimes difficult circumstances;” and “…excels in coaching other complaint intake staff, requiring in-depth knowledge of the law, creative problem-solving and an understanding of the harm that housing discrimination can do.” She also provides in-depth technical assistance to her counterparts all over the nation as part of a special project. In short, Margaret Bowitz’s work has opened doors, empowered victims of unlawful discrimination, held the housing industry accountable, and created more fair and inclusive communities.