The premise: Housing discrimination remains a major problem in cities across the U.S. It has just gone underground.

To address this problem, the city of Pittsburgh has launched a sweeping campaign to raise awareness that that everyone has recourse when housing discrimination takes place.

The campaign was developed to mark Fair Housing month in April. Pittsburgh City Council and the Commission of Human Relations created the campaign in honor of the 46th anniversary of the passage of the U.S. Fair Housing Law, a part of the Civil Rights Act of 1968.

Three videos will run indefinitely, poignantly reminding the public that people have the right to live anywhere they choose in Pittsburgh (or the rest of the country), regardless of their race, religion, sexual orientation or disability, says Sarah Kinter with the city’s Commission on Human Relations.

The public service announcements will run on TV, YouTube and the commission’s website;  they were produced by Pittsburgh-based Fireman Creative. The three videos show a door slamming shot on an African-American male, a gay couple and a disabled person. The message? “Let’s make sure Pittsburgh is the most livable city for everyone.

“The problem has become more covert today than it’s ever been,” says Kinter. “Back in the 1960s people actually hung out signs,” she adds. “Today we are dealing with lenders or realtors who are steering people toward a neighborhood with a certain composition. It’s so subtle that it’s often hard for people to identify that they’re being discriminated against.”

The Commission on Human Relations is a law enforcement agency. Its job is to assist those who have been the target of discrimination based on any of these factors: race, religion, family status, age, ancestry, national origin, place of birth, sex, sexual orientation, handicap or disability.

“One of our goals is to make the public more aware of discrimination and file complaints,” says Jullane McKinley, interim director. “That’s what our office is here for.”

Deb Smit

Deb is an award-winning journalist who loves ancient places and cool technologies. A former daily newspaper reporter and Time-Life Books editor, she writes mostly about Pittsburgh. Her stories have appeared...