HUD No. 03-034
April 1, 2003
MARTINEZ KICKS - OFF FAIR HOUSING MONTH; MARKS 35th ANNIVERSARY OF FAIR HOUSING ACT
Bush Administration 2004 Budget Requests Largest Funding Ever for Fair Housing:
$50 million to Target Housing Discrimination
WASHINGTON - Housing and Urban Development Secretary Mel Martinez today marked the beginning of Fair Housing Month and the 35th anniversary of the passage of the Fair Housing Act by urging all Americans to advance fair housing opportunities across the nation.
The Fair Housing Act, established by Congress in 1968, prohibits discrimination in the financing, rental or sale of any dwelling based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. Amendments to the Act in 1988 extended its coverage to prohibit discrimination based on disability or familial status.
"HUD's work throughout the years has ensured that fair housing is now central
to the American way of life," said Martinez. "Under the leadership of President
Bush, our national commitment to creating equal housing opportunities for all
Americans is as strong today as it was when President Johnson signed the Fair
Housing Act into law in 1968."
For fiscal year 2004, President Bush has proposed to increase the fair housing budget by 8 percent, to nearly $50 million, to ensure equal housing opportunity for all Americans. Approximately $30 million for the Fair Housing Assistance Program (FHAP) will go to state and local jurisdictions that have entered into cooperative agreements with HUD to support enforcement, education and outreach activities. The remaining $20 million for HUD's Fair Housing Initiatives Program (FHIP) will be provided to non-profit agencies that directly target discrimination and educate the public.
As part of HUD's effort to boost the minority homeownership rate in America by 5.5 million new homeowners by the year 2010, the Department is working to reduce discrimination in housing. Significantly, while the Housing Discrimination Study found that rental discrimination against African Americans has modestly declined since HUD last studied the problem in 1989, rental discrimination against Hispanics has remained unchanged at about 25 percent. In an effort to address these findings and promote fair housing, $2 million of the FHAP budget for FY 2004 will support enforcement and outreach in six cities with significant or rapidly growing Hispanic populations.
Other fair housing initiatives include:
- A $600,000 initiative to combat lending discrimination, including predatory lending, that will examine the lending patterns in the prime and subprime markets, and take action where the law has been violated.
- An initiative that will allow homebuilders, developers, architects and designers to access the latest training and technical guidance on how to comply with accessible design and construction requirements of the Fair Housing Act. The Fair Housing Accessibility FIRST program is intended to educate and inform people about the Act's requirements before design and construction begins, thus avoiding costly retrofitting by builders and increasing housing opportunities for persons with disabilities. More information on this initiative is available on the Internet (www.fairhousingfirst.org/).
- A $900,000 grant awarded to the International Code Council to help state and local governments adopt building codes that are consistent with the accessibility requirements of the Fair Housing Act.
HUD is the nation's housing agency committed to increasing homeownership, particularly among minorities, creating affordable housing opportunities for low-income Americans, supporting the homeless, elderly, people with disabilities and people living with AIDS. The Department also promotes economic and community development as well as enforces the nation's fair housing laws. More information about HUD and its programs is available on the Internet.
For more information about HUD's Fair Housing Month activities or to report housing discrimination call 1-800-669-9777.