April 1, 2004
AS U.S. MARKS 36th ANNIVERSARY OF FAIR HOUSING ACT,
HUD SAYS HOUSING DISCRIMINATION IS UNDERREPORTED BY VICTIMS
WASHINGTON - In July 2000, Air Force Captain Dale Van Dyke, his wife Jennifer and their three young children relocated to Scott Air Force Base in Illinois, where they sought off-base housing. They were looking for a house with a yard in Belleville that was in a safe neighborhood and had good schools. A little more than three years later, a federal judge ordered an Illinois doctor to pay $15,445 to the Van Dyke's for refusing to rent the family a house because of their children.
as the 36th anniversary of the passage of the Fair Housing Act nears and Fair
Housing Month begins, the Van Dyke's and their offending would-be landlord are
among the growing number of Americans who have come to realize how the nation's
fair housing law applies to them.
The Act, established by Congress in 1968, prohibits discrimination in the rental, sale or financing of any dwelling based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. In 1988, amendments were added to prohibit discrimination based on disability and familial status. Alleged violations of the Act are investigated by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, state and city agencies working with HUD and private fair housing groups, many of which also receive HUD funds.
"HUD and our partners are determined to ensure fair housing for all, especially minorities and persons with disabilities," said Acting Secretary Alphonso Jackson. "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 fiscal year 2003, individuals filed nearly 8,100 discrimination complaints with HUD and its partner agencies in states and localities, and the Department resolved more than 8,400 cases. HUD estimates, however, that the number of complaints received comprise only a small percentage of actual incidences of housing-related discrimination. Furthermore, HUD research suggests that more than 80 percent of people discriminated against fail to report the incident.
"The apparent reasons for this inaction are not complicated," said Carolyn Peoples, HUD assistant secretary for fair housing and equal opportunity. "Far too many Americans still do not know where to turn for help when they do experience discrimination. Others have trouble recognizing discrimination when it occurs."
HUD studies confirm that African Americans, Hispanics, Asians/Pacific Islanders and Native Americans often receive less favorable treatment than similarly qualified whites when attempting to buy or rent homes. Discrimination because of race and national origin is alleged in more than 50 percent of the complaints received by HUD and the state and local agencies it funds through the Fair Housing Assistance Program.
Discrimination based on disability accounted for 39 percent of the complaints received in fiscal year 2003 by HUD and its FHAP partners. Disability-related complaints include, among others, allegations of housing providers refusing to rent to people with disabilities, denying reasonable accommodations for people with disabilities or failing to design and construct housing that meets the Act's accessibility requirements.
HUD recently launched a national ad campaign designed to educate the public about their fair housing rights. The campaign directs people to call HUD - (800) 669-9777, TDD (800) 927-9275 - if they believe they are being discriminated against. The campaign also includes an award-winning public service announcement.
HUD has also stepped up enforcement efforts undertaken absent a complaint from an individual. For example:
$1.5 million will be used to conduct testing, enforcement and education and
outreach in areas where discrimination against blacks and Hispanics is particularly
$600,000 will go to testing, enforcement and education and outreach in areas
where banks and other lenders may be engaged in discriminatory or predatory
$1.8 million will be earmarked for partner agencies to help fight discrimination
against Asians, Pacific Islanders and Native Americans;
- A newly
created Systemic Investigations Office within the Office of Fair Housing and
Equal Opportunity will investigate cases where alleged discrimination impacts
large numbers of people when no individual has filed a complaint; and,
- Nearly $500,000 will be used to address discrimination against persons who are or perceived to be Muslim or of Middle Eastern descent.
During fiscal year 2005, HUD will award some $48 million to public and private organizations and state and local governments to carry out a range of fair housing activities. Approximately $27 million will go to state and local jurisdictions that have entered into cooperative agreements with HUD to support enforcement, education and outreach activities. The remaining $20.7 million will be provided to non-profit agencies that directly target discrimination and educate the public.
HUD is the nation's housing agency committed to increasing homeownership, particularly among minorities; creating affordable housing opportunities for low-income Americans; and 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 and espanol.hud.gov.
Note to editors: People who believe they've been harmed by housing discrimination can file complaints with HUD by calling 1-800-669-9777.