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September 28, 2001
SECRETARY MARTINEZ CALLS FOR HOUSING INDUSTRY TO STAND UNITED IN WAKE OF ATTACKS
WASHINGTON - HUD Secretary Mel Martinez today issued a letter to members of the housing industry highlighting the importance of standing united to combat any discrimination against Americans as they seek housing opportunities. Martinez stressed that America's strength is in part due to its great diversity and the fact that America has always welcomed people of all ethnic and religious backgrounds.
The letter, sent to HUD's public and private partners, including local and state governments that receive federal funding, fair housing organizations, public housing authorities, FHA-approved lenders, and others, makes note of the Fair Housing Act and other federal laws that prohibit discrimination and the intimidation of people in their homes. HUD is sending the letter to organizations that represent over one million people including members of the National Association of Realtors, National Multi Housing Council, the National League of Cities and the Mortgage Bankers Association, and to advocacy groups such as the Arab American Anti-Discrimination Committee.
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 and Department of Justice investigators, state and city agencies working with HUD, and private fair housing groups that receive HUD funds. A housing discrimination charge carries a minimum civil penalty of up to $11,000, plus monetary compensation for damages, including humiliation, emotional distress, and loss of housing rights. If either side in a case chooses to take the case to federal court, punitive damages may be awarded.