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HUD No. 98-11
Further Information:For Release
In the Washington, DC area: 202/708-0685Monday
Or contact your local HUD officeJanuary 19, 1998

VICE PRESIDENT ANNOUNCES $22 MILLION INCREASE PROPOSED BY CLINTON ADMINISTRATION TO FIGHT HOUSING DISCRIMINATION

Vice President Al Gore today announced that President Clinton will propose a $22 million budget increase for the Department of Housing and Urban Development to intensify the fight against housing discrimination.

In a speech at the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta to mark Martin Luther King Day, the Vice President said the additional funds "will help bring Martin Luther Kingís dream of equality for all Americans a step closer to reality."

The increase, to be proposed in the Presidentís 1999 Federal Budget, would boost funding for HUDís Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity to $52 million from the current $30 million -- a 73 percent increase. The initiative is a primary element of the Presidentís "One America" policy to bring Americans together.

"Today, on Martin Luther King Day, Americans across the nation are praising Dr. King with eloquent words for his courageous battle against discrimination," Vice President Gore said. "The Presidentís budget will praise Dr. King with the eloquence of action. The 73 percent increase in funding for HUDís fair housing programs will help us do more to protect the right of every American family to live and raise their children in any neighborhood they can afford."

"Housing discrimination is an ugly part of Americaís past," HUD Secretary Andrew Cuomo said. "It is illegal, it is intolerable and it has no place in our present or our future. By strengthening our support for Dr. Kingís battle against housing discrimination, President Clintonís budget will keep his spirit and his work alive."

The $22 million increase sought by the President would be used to:

  • Boost HUD funding to state and local fair housing groups around the nation, so they can do more to reduce housing discrimination. The groups use HUD assistance to help pay for investigations and lawsuits. "Private groups and public agencies are doing an outstanding job as our partners in fighting housing discrimination," Cuomo said.

  • Create a national Fair Housing Rights Education Campaign to inform Americans about their legal rights and responsibilities under the Fair Housing Act and to provide them with assistance when confronted by illegal discrimination.

  • Provide funding in 20 communities to measure the extent of housing discrimination.

  • Help over 50 local fair housing and other non-profit groups remove barriers to fair housing.

  • Increase coordination of fair housing enforcement activities between local governments and private organizations.

The Fair Housing Act was enacted in 1968, shortly after Dr. Kingís assassination. The Act bars housing discrimination on account of race, color, religion, sex, disability, family status and national origin. The Act covers the sale, rental, financing and advertising of almost all housing in the nation. Fair housing investigations are conducted by HUD investigators, state and city agencies working with HUD, and private fair housing groups that receive HUD funds.

Cuomo began a nationwide crackdown on housing discrimination in September, at President Clintonís direction. Since the crackdown began HUD has initiated over 30 housing discrimination enforcement actions in 15 states and reached out-of-court settlements of housing discrimination accusations in another 79 cases in 16 states.

A finding by an administrative law judge that the Fair Housing Act has been violated carries a top penalty of $11,000 in civil penalties for the first offense and $55,000 for later offenses; monetary compensation to victims for actual damages, humiliation, mental distress, and loss of their housing opportunities; and attorney fees and court costs. A finding by a federal court of a Fair Housing Act violation may include an assessment of punitive damages, as well as compensation for victims.

HUD operates a toll-free national hotline to take housing discrimination complaints, in both English and Spanish, at 1-800-669-9777.

During President Clinton's first term, HUD reached out-of-court settlements on 6,517 housing discrimination cases. The Department took enforcement actions on 1,085 cases, in which HUD issued housing discrimination charges or referred cases to the Department of Justice. HUD obtained $17.8 million in compensation for housing discrimination victims during the President's first term.

Content Archived: January 20, 2009

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