April 4, 2006
HUD MARKS 38TH ANNIVERSARY OF FAIR HOUSING ACT
"Fair Housing: It's Not an Option...It's the Law"
WASHINGTON - Thirty-eight years ago, the nation's Fair Housing Act became the law of the land. Today, Housing and Urban Development Secretary Alphonso Jackson commemorated the anniversary of the signing of this landmark legislation, as well as the annual observance of Fair Housing Month, by calling for increased vigilance in protecting the housing rights of all Americans.
During the ceremony, Jackson recognized Shirley Carper, a California woman who winning a $1 million legal settlement after her landlord refused to provide her with a parking space closer to her apartment. Carper has a degenerative joint disease that made it painful for her to climb stairs from the lower-level parking spaces to her unit.
"The types of discrimination commonly reported today, differ from the stark bias faced by those in the Civil Rights Movement 40 years ago," said Kim Kendrick, HUD Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity. "Discrimination today is often more subtle requiring that we develop new strategies to meet this challenge, while simultaneously educating every American that Fair Housing is not an option, it is the law."
Established by Congress in 1968, the Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in the sale or financing of any dwelling based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. In 1988, the law was expanded to prohibit discrimination based on disability and familial status.
In fiscal year 2005, HUD and state and local agencies funded by HUD's Fair Housing Assistance Program (FHAP) saw an eight percent rise in the number of complaints alleging housing discrimination against persons with disabilities, making disability discrimination the most common complaint.
Complaints alleging disability discrimination make up 40 percent of the cases filed with HUD and its state and local partners while discrimination complaints based on race now comprise 38 percent of their workload. Nearly 22 percent of cases filed with HUD and FHAP agencies, more than half of the disability complaints, alleged that a housing provider refused to make a reasonable accommodation to their rules or procedures in order to assist a person with a disability.
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 is the nation's housing agency committed to increasing homeownership; creating affordable housing opportunities for low-income Americans; and supporting the homeless, elderly, and people with disabilities. 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.
Persons who believe they are the victims of housing discrimination should contact HUD at (800) 669-9777. Additional information is available at www.hud.gov.