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CUOMO SAYS HUD'S BATTLE AGAINST HOUSING DISCRIMINATION MOVES TO CYBERSPACE, MARKING 30TH ANNIVERSARY OF FAIR HOUSING ACT
WASHINGTON - To mark today's 30th anniversary of Congressional passage of the Fair Housing Act, Housing and Urban Development Secretary Andrew Cuomo announced HUD is collecting housing discrimination complaints on its Internet website.
"We are using one of technology's newest tools to fight one of humankind's oldest problems," Cuomo said. "We our taking our battle against housing discrimination into cyberspace."
"Our message to those who violate the Fair Housing Act is simple: the days when you could get away with housing discrimination are over," Cuomo said. "If you continue discriminating, we will find you and we will stop you."
"Utilizing the Internet to enforce the Fair Housing Act is the latest example of HUD using innovation, efficiency and high technology to better serve the American people," Cuomo added.
The Secretary said people who don't have Internet access from home can visit one of HUD's 81 field offices or local libraries to file a housing discrimination complaint over the Internet. By going to the HUD Homepage at www.hud.gov, people have the option of filing directly on-line or printing out a form to mail in.
The new method of filing housing discrimination complaints will supplement the existing methods of writing a letter to the Department, filing a complaint at a local HUD office and calling HUD's housing discrimination hotline at 1-800-669-9777.
At President Clinton's direction, HUD began a stepped-up campaign against housing discrimination in September, as part of the President's One America Initiative. Cuomo pledged to double the number of enforcement actions HUD takes against violations of the Fair Housing Act by the year 2000.
This past fiscal year, as a result of HUD's crackdown, the Department obtained $9.6 million in relief for individuals in housing discrimination settlements - compared with $4.4 million the year before.
President Clinton's proposed 1999 federal budget seeks $22 million in increased funding for HUD to intensify the fight against housing discrimination. The 73 percent increase for HUD's Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity would boost spending by the office to $52 million. If approved, it would be the largest single budget increase in civil rights law enforcement in two decades.
The Fair Housing Act outlaws housing discrimination on account of race, color, religion, national origin, sex , family status and disability. 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.
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 a first offense and $55,000 for later offenses. Additional penalties include: monetary compensation to victims for actual damages, humiliation, mental distress, and loss of their fair housing rights; attorney fees; and court costs. A finding by a federal court of a violation may include punitive damages, as well as compensation for victims.
Content Archived: January 20, 2009