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Fair Housing Center Records

Identifier: MSS-335

Scope and Contents

The Fair Housing Center Records consists of four series. Series 1: Administrative Files consists of primarily of reports summarizing education and outreach activities, referrals, case settlements, HUD complaint filings, and upcoming events. Annual reports are also included in this series, along with several miscellaneous reports pertaining to common housing issues such as redlining and home insurance. These reports collectively cover the late 1980s-late 2010s. The other document in this series is a strategic plan for the years 2003-2008.

Photographs make up the majority of Series 2: Audiovisual. The photographs document the various activities held by the Fair Housing Center, such as the Bid Against Discrimination fundraising auction. Photographs of non-annual events include the Center’s 21st anniversary, as well as a visit by civil rights activist Julian Bond. In addition, there are various photographs of unidentified events. Also included is a DVD of the PBS program “Fair Housing: A Place to Call Home.”

Series 3: Publications and Printed Material is the largest portion of the collection and is largely comprised of newspaper articles. Several articles were published before the Center’s founding, and many do not mention the Center directly, but cover issues of housing discrimination that the Center was created to combat. Although the first articles are dated as early as the 1950s and 1960s, the bulk are from the late 1980s-2010s. Researchers should note that there are no articles from 2008-2012. Other publications include newsletters produced by the Fair Housing Center, and the National Fair Housing Advocate, which documents instances of housing discrimination throughout the United States. Friend of Fair Housing is a quarterly newsletter for members of the organization of the same name; several issues of this publication are also included. Advertisements, brochures and flyers, and pamphlets produced by the Center and other organizations make up the remainder of this series. Most are undated.

Series 4: Miscellaneous contains the founding documents of the Fair Housing Center, including the code of regulation, bylaws, and the first annual report and newsletter. One of the Fair Housing Center’s earliest cases, Shellhammer v. Lewallen (1983) can also be found in this series, as can correspondence and several proclamations and resolutions recognizing the Center’s efforts to ensure equal housing opportunities for all citizens.


  • 1957-2018

Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research. Materials may be accessed by request at the Ward M. Canaday Center for Special Collections on the fifth floor of the William S. Carlson Library on the main campus of the University of Toledo. Materials do not circulate.

Conditions Governing Use

In most cases, the Canaday Center does not own the copyright and literary rights to items in its collections; it is the responsibility of the researcher to adhere to U.S. Copyright and Fair Use laws, including seeking permission from the copyright holder and payment of any royalty fees, in the reproduction and use of archival materials.

Providing copies or scans does not constitute a license to publish or reproduce images in print or electronic form.

Biographical / Historical

The fight for fair housing in northwest Ohio began with Vann v. Toledo Metropolitan Housing Authority in 1953, a case concerning racial segregation in public housing. Efforts to combat race-based housing discrimination continued into the 1960s and 1970s, including the Catholic Interracial Council, which, through its Integrated Housing Plan, attempted to link black homebuyers with white sellers. In 1967, City Council passed fair housing legislation aimed at preventing panic selling, but the ordinance was later defeated by a referendum vote. Four years after this failure, residents in the Old West End neighborhood laid the foundation for fair housing enforcement zones throughout the city. However, a major breakthrough came in 1974 with the creation of the Toledo Community Housing Resources Board (TCHRB), which established the Fair Housing Center in 1975. Only two years later, Joe Tafelski successfully litigated a lending redlining lawsuit in the city, Harrison v. Heinzroth. Other landmark cases involving the Fair Housing Center include:

• Shellhammer v. Lewallen (1983): the first sexual harassment housing complaint in the country, this case established sexual harassment as a violation of the 1968 Fair Housing Act. • Fair Housing Center v. Lexington Apartments (1988), which set a national precedent for providing free rental units for homeless individuals. • A 1996 agreement settled by the Center against State Farm Insurance. Following complaints filed with HUD against the insurance giant, the agreement changed the way homeowners insurance is written on a nationwide scale. 1996 also marked the year that the Center entered into partnerships with other insurance companies – including Allstate, Liberty Mutual, and Farmers Insurance – to change underwriting guidelines, which were disparately impacting African-American and Latino neighborhoods. These partnerships also resulted in over $10 million in investments in Toledo’s urban communities. • Wells Fargo (2013): after a complaint alleging better maintenance and marketing of Real Estate Owned homes in white vs black neighborhoods, the Center, together with twelve other fair housing organizations, entered into the first-ever agreement to equally maintain and market such properties. The Toledo Fair Housing Center also received $1.4 million in community relief funds, which were used to establish the MLK Inclusive Communities Program. This program assists with foreclosure prevention, roof replacements, and home modifications for increased accessibility.

Over its forty-four-year history, the Fair Housing Center has investigated more than 12,000 discrimination complaints and secured over $30 million in damages for both victims and neighborhood investments. In addition to its numerous legal successes, the Fair Housing Center also offers educational outreach programs and conducts workshops for other fair housing organizations as well as government agencies and housing industry professionals. The Center has also testified to the House of Representatives’ Committee on Banking, Finance and Urban Affairs on matters of housing discrimination and equal housing opportunity.


5.25 Linear Feet

Language of Materials


Fair Housing Center Records, 1957-2018
Tamara Jones
February 2019
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Edition statement
First edition

Repository Details

Part of the Ward M. Canaday Center for Special Collections Repository

2801 West Bancroft Street
William S. Carlson Library, Fifth Floor
Toledo Ohio 43606 United States