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CUOMO AWARDS $15 MILLION IN GRANTS TO HELP GROUPS IN 54 CITIES FIGHT HOUSING DISCRIMINATION
WASHINGTON - Housing and Urban Development Secretary Andrew Cuomo today awarded $15 million in grants to groups in 54 cities to help them fight housing discrimination.
"Housing discrimination is an ugly part of our past that we must eliminate once and for all in the 21st century," Cuomo said. "HUD is working in partnership with groups around the country to achieve this goal."
The grants Cuomo announced today will go to a broad cross-section of public and private fair housing groups and state and local agencies.
The groups will use the funds to investigate allegations of housing discrimination, educate the public and housing industry about housing discrimination laws, and work to promote fair housing. The grants are funded under HUD's Fair Housing Initiatives Program.
Here's a breakdown of funding to groups in the following locations:
A large portion of the funding awarded today will be used for paired testing to uncover housing discrimination.
In testing, people of different backgrounds - based on their race, ethnicity, family status, sex, religion or disability - pose as prospective renters or homebuyers. Testers state they have similar incomes, assets and credit ratings. Then they check to see if they are treated differently from each other by landlords, people selling homes, mortgage lenders, or companies selling homeowners insurance.
Cuomo noted the competition for today's grants was tough, with 220 applications seeking more than $50 million in assistance - even though Congress only allocated $15 million.
The grants announced today will support President Clinton's One America Initiative, and his initiative to double HUD enforcement efforts against housing discrimination. HUD increased its enforcement actions to a rate averaging 65 per month in the 1999 Fiscal Year, compared with an average of less than 30 enforcement actions per month during the President's first term.
Cuomo said housing discrimination contributes to the vast homeownership gap dividing whites from minorities. In the third quarter of this year, 73.5 percent of white families owned their own homes, while only 47 percent of African American families and just 45.5 percent of Hispanic families were homeowners.
The Secretary said HUD will be able to continue moving aggressively against housing discrimination as the result of an increase in the budget of its Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity from $40 million in the 1999 fiscal year to $44 million in the current fiscal year. Of that total amount, $18 million will be exclusively for fair housing groups such as those getting grants announced today - a $3 million increase over Fiscal Year 1999 funding.
The Fair Housing Act bars housing discrimination on the basis 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, such as those receiving the grants announced today.
People who believe they've been harmed by housing discrimination can file complaints with HUD by calling 1-800-669-9777 or on the Internet.
Content Archived: January 20, 2009