HUD Marks 40th Anniversary of the Fair Housing Act

Style News Wire | 4/17/2008, 3:59 p.m.
More than 10,000 people filed housing discrimination complaints last year, most from persons with disabilities, according to an annual report ...

Of the more than 10,000 complaints filed last year, 43 percent alleged discrimination against persons with disabilities while 37 percent alleged racial discrimination.  Most complainants claimed to be victims of discrimination in the terms and conditions of the sale or rental of housing, or outright refusal to rent.

“Forty years after the passage of the Fair Housing Act, an alarming number of families are still being denied housing and still need the protections this landmark law offers,” said Kim Kendrick, HUD Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity.  “This report underscores the importance of HUD’s continued enforcement, education, and outreach activities to ensure that all Americans have equal access to housing opportunities.”

The report describes the enforcement activities of HUD and its state and local partners during FY 2007.

For example:

• A case that resulted in a $75,000 settlement for an African-American woman in California who was allegedly denied the opportunity to rent an apartment because of her race.

• A case that resulted in a $14,000 settlement for a woman in Illinois who was allegedly denied the opportunity to buy a townhouse because she has children.

• A case that resulted in a $10,000 settlement for a man with a disability in New Jersey who was allegedly denied an accessible parking space as a reasonable accommodation for his disability.

• A voluntary compliance agreement with the Atlanta Housing Authority that resulted in a commitment by the Authority to create at least 310 accessible units for persons with disabilities by 2011.  This figure represents 5 percent of its housing stock.

In addition, the report details HUD’s fair housing education and outreach efforts.

For example:

• HUD placed fair housing advertisements on more than 900 movie screens throughout the country. These advertisements informed viewers that it is unlawful to discriminate in the sale, rental, or financing of housing and provided HUD’s toll-free telephone number, 1-800-669-9777, for those that may have experienced or witnessed unlawful discrimination.

• Fair Housing Accessibility FIRST, a HUD-funded training program, trained 1,351 individuals in 22 training sessions in 17 states on the Fair Housing Act’s design and construction requirements for multifamily housing.

HUD’s annual report was released at the beginning of National Fair Housing Month, which HUD celebrates every April to commemorate the anniversary of the signing of the Fair Housing Act.  This year the release coincides with the 40th anniversary of the enactment of the Fair Housing Act.  To commemorate this anniversary, HUD will hold a fair housing policy conference in Atlanta, Georgia from April 8-11 for policymakers, advocates, and housing-industry professionals.  The theme of the conference is, “On the Sunlit Path” which comes from Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s, “I Have A Dream speech” where he said, “Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice...” The conference will discuss ways to promote Dr. King’s vision for equality and justice in housing.

For those who believe they are the victims of housing discrimination they should contact HUD at 1-800-669-9777 (voice), 800-927-9275 (TTY). Additional information is available at www.hud.gov/fairhousing.

HUD is the nation’s housing agency committed to increasing homeownership, particularly among minorities; creating affordable housing opportunities for low-income Americans; and supporting the homeless, elderly, people with disabilities and people living with AIDS. The Department also promotes economic and community development and enforces the nation’s fair housing laws. More information about HUD and its programs is available on the Internet at www.hud.gov and espanol.hud.gov.