Fair Housing Council of Orange County was founded in 1965 by Richard Petherbridge, a local Santa Ana attorney and advocate with the American Civil Liberties Union. During the early 1960’s, Petherbridge provided legal help to families based on the increasing numbers of racial discrimination cases against blacks or African Americans seeking housing in Orange County—especially areas outside of Santa Ana. In fact, the Fair Housing Council of Orange County (FHCOC) was established in response to the passing of California’s Proposition 14, an anti-fair housing laws initiative largely introduced and supported by the Real Estate Industry. Proposition 14 essentially repealed California’s Rumford Fair Act of 1963 which prohibited the denial of housing on the basis of color, ethnicity, religion, sex, marital status, physical handicap, or familial status.
Petherbridge served as Chair of FHCOC’s Board of Directors for two years. In 1969 Robert Johnson was elected as the organization’s 4th Chairman of the Board since its founding in 1965. In February of 1966, prior to becoming the chair, Johnson started attending fair housing meetings at the council after a recommendation from his wife, Lois, who had already been participating. Johnson, as a founding member of the board of directors has devoted almost five decades to civil rights issues and has served as a pioneer for change and elimination of segregation of blacks in Orange County.
After the passage of the 1968 Fair Housing Act, FHCOC would continue to build on its mission: “to protect the quality of life in Orange County by ensuring equal access to housing opportunities, fostering diversity, and preserving dignity and human rights.” In 1970, the organization hired its first Executive Director Camille Beason and continued to operate daily using a staffing model which included volunteer advisory boards and neighborhood councils. In 1974 the Community Development Block Grant Program (CDBG) was established by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to foster better living environments, expand job opportunities and improve housing stock. The Fair Housing Council had already been working in Orange County communities and neighborhoods to equalize access to housing and community opportunities for blacks or African Americans; thus, when CDBG programs began in cities like Santa Ana in 1975, the Council was the right organization to support new program initiatives.
Fair Housing Council of Orange County has been serving many local jurisdictions in Orange County for more than 40 years working to protect housing rights and opportunities for communities of color who have historically been disenfranchised and discriminated against in housing and employment. As additional legislation was passed, such as the Community Reinvestment Act of 1977 and the Fair Housing Initiatives Program (FHIP) in 1987 FHCOC was able to build on its existence and keep its doors open by receiving grant funding from HUD’s FHIP Program, private donors, and other resources.
Additionally, our housing counseling team provides one-on-one education, mediation, and counseling for individuals and families throughout the Orange County region—we are a HUD Approved Housing Counseling Agency. FHCOC has devoted 50 years of housing focused service to the region—enriching and improving the lives of thousands of individuals and families.
Under the direction of our current President/CEO, Denise Y. Cato the Fair Housing Council of OC continues its heritage, helping hand, and message of hope to those most often marginalized in our neighborhoods and communities at large. This year as we embark upon our 50th birthday, we ask that you help us celebrate by simply pledging $1.00 for every year we can count on you to help us keep our doors open for another 50 years and counting…
Come Celebrate 50 with US! April 29, 2015
Encore Theater, 11:30 am – 2:00 pm
The Fair Housing Council of Orange County has a highly skilled and experienced team of 10 housing specialists with more than 78 years of combined Fair Housing knowledge and experience. Ms. Cato has an extensive background in the housing industry with 25 years of specialized training and experience in housing counseling, mediation and fair housing. Cato and her team has identified and investigated more than 100 consumer complaints on the basis of disability within the last five years. She provides detailed and expensive training courses to housing providers, developers, and jurisdictional leaders on fair housing laws, regulations, and impediments to equal access and choice in housing.
Donations should be made to Fair Housing Council of Orange County, 50 years and counting…fund. Fair Housing Council of Orange County is a private non-profit, 501(c) (3) organization. Call 1-800-698-FAIR for more information.