Friday, June 18, 2004
HUD CREATES NATIONAL FAIR HOUSING TRAINING ACADEMY TO STRENGTHEN ENFORCEMENT OF FAIR HOUSING LAWS, CURB DISCRIMINATION
WASHINGTON - Fair housing officials from the Department of Housing and Urban Development today unveiled plans to strengthen enforcement of the nation's fair housing laws by requiring discrimination investigators to satisfactorily complete 200 hours of advanced training in theory and techniques. The courses will cover such topics as case management, civil rights laws and legal updates, compliance testing and monitoring, and investigation and conciliation.
"The new requirements will apply to all 500 full-time investigators in Federal Housing Assistance Programs (FHAPS)," said Floyd May, general deputy assistant secretary in HUD's Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity.
FHAPS are state and local fair housing agencies that HUD funds to investigate alleged violations of the Fair Housing Act of 1968. There are 101 FHAP agencies nationwide. Part-time FHAP investigators will also be required to complete the training, though the details have not yet been finalized.
May, who made the announcement at FHEO's biennial 2004 National Fair Housing Training Conference and Housing Policy Summit, said the National Fair Housing Training Academy will opens its doors to its first student in early August. The Academy will be located in the Miner Building - a former African-American teacher's college - a historic site on the main campus of Howard University in Washington, DC.
"HUD and its FHAP partners are committed to ensuring fair housing for all, especially minorities and persons with disabilities," said Carolyn Peoples, HUD assistant secretary for fair housing and equal opportunity. "The Training Academy will help meet that objective by establishing policy and performance standards for all fair housing professionals, and ensuring the more consistent and timely enforcement of fair housing laws."
Academy courses are being developed by HUD subject matter experts partnering with curriculum and materials development experts from the Graduate School at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Academy instructors will be civil rights and housing professionals from academia, law, the housing industry and the executive branch of government.
The training will be divided into 10 courses during a non-consecutive, five-week period. Once all courses are satisfactorily completed, students will be certified as accredited fair housing investigators, which will result in better service to citizens who experience and report discrimination.
HUD and its partner agencies received more than 8,000 discrimination complaints last year. HUD estimates, however, that these complaints comprise only a small percentage of actual incidences of housing-related discrimination, as documented in recent HUD studies. Other HUD research suggests that more than 80 percent of people who believe they have been discriminated against do nothing about it.
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.
People who believe they've been harmed by housing discrimination can file complaints with HUD by calling 1-800-669-9777.