Statement of Kenneth L. Marcus
June 25, 2002
General Deputy Assistant Secretary
Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity
before the US House of Representatives
Committee on Financial Services
Subcommittee on Housing and Community Opportunity and
Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations
Roukema, Chairwoman Kelly, and members of the subcommittees, my
name is Kenneth Marcus, and I am the General Deputy Assistant Secretary
for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity at the United States Department
of Housing and Urban Development.
am honored to testify before you today on HUD's efforts to enforce
those laws that protect the right of every American, including minorities
and persons with disabilities, to freely choose where they will
live. No one should be precluded from seeking the housing of their
choice or purchasing the home of their dreams because of their race,
color, religion, national origin, sex, familial status or disability.
Secretary Mel Martinez has repeatedly emphasized that aggressive
enforcement of the Fair Housing Act is a high priority of the Department
of Housing and Urban Development.
the 34 years since the Fair Housing Act was passed, significant
progress has been made in reducing barriers to fair housing and
expanding homeownership opportunity. More minority families own
their homes today than ever before, including 48 percent of African-American
households and 47.6 percent of Hispanic households.
all that has been accomplished, we recognize that much more needs
to be done. While the nation's homeownership rate is higher than
ever, a large gap still exists between minorities and whites, 74.3
percent of whom own their homes. President Bush, just last week,
acknowledged this disparity when he urged Americans, collectively,
to work together to "close the homeownership gap by dismantling
the barriers that prevent more minorities from owning a piece of
the American dream."
discrimination in mortgage lending has been illegal for more than
30 years, a recent survey by the National Community Reinvestment
Coalition shows high numbers of Americans still believe it occurs.
extent to which discrimination against persons with disabilities
exists today is also distressing. Despite general awareness of the
1988 Fair Housing Amendments Act and the types of discrimination
it prohibits, as evidenced by a recent HUD study, we are finding
that the rights of people with disabilities are still frequently
ignored. Of the complaints filed with HUD and its partner state
and local agencies, the number that allege discrimination on the
basis of disability equals, and in some places surpasses, those
based on race.
of the main contributors to the challenges facing persons with disabilities
is the acute lack of accessible housing units. Anecdotal evidence
and cases investigated by federal agencies indicate a high degree
of non-compliance with the provision of the Fair Housing Act that
requires accessible design and construction for new multifamily
with the accessibility requirements combined with the failure of
landlords to provide necessary accommodations and modifications
has contributed to a shortage of housing for persons with disabilities
in both private and public housing developments.
are the challenges HUD faces in meeting the needs of persons with
disabilities, increasing minority homeownership, and enforcing the
Fair Housing Act for all Americans.
Martinez takes very seriously HUD's charge as the principal federal
enforcer of the Fair Housing Act and the laws prohibiting discrimination
in federally-assisted housing. HUD and state and local agencies
that enforce substantially equivalent laws receive an average of
10,000 complaints a year alleging Fair Housing Act violations. The
most meaningful contribution HUD can make to the fight against housing
discrimination is the prompt and successful resolution of complaints
from individuals who come to us to report claims of discrimination.
must improve its track record in its enforcement of the federal
fair housing laws. During previous years, the Department developed
such a bad reputation for its delays in processing Fair Housing
Act cases that today many of the Department's constituents express
reluctance to file complaints with the Department, out of a belief
that nothing will come of it. At the end of FY 2000, the percentage
of fair housing cases remaining open past the statutory deadline
of 100 days was over 80 percent. At the end of the first fiscal
year of the Bush Administration, FY 2001, we had reduced the aged-case
inventory to 37.1 percent. This was the first time since the passage
of Fair Housing Act Amendments of 1988 that HUD's aged-case backlog
has dropped below 50 percent.
are also working diligently to assist state and local partner agencies
whom HUD funds under the Fair Housing Assistance Program (FHAP)
to reduce their backlog of aged cases. HUD is pleased that the Congress
provided funds in the FY 2002 appropriation to assist this effort.
HUD has stepped up its commitment to prompt, meaningful resolution
of these cases and aggressive enforcement when the law has been
have examined the role that lending discrimination may play in the
disparity in homeownership rates between whites and some minorities.
A recent HUD-commissioned study, titled All Other Things Being
Equal: A Paired Testing Study of Mortgage Lending Institutions,
examined how lenders treated blacks and Hispanics at the pre-application
stage, when they inquired about residential mortgage financing.
The study revealed that while the majority of mortgage lending transactions
do not involve discrimination, blacks and Hispanics, in the markets
studied, tended to receive less information, less assistance, and
is stepping up its efforts to combat lending discrimination. The
Department will soon provide a contract for an enforcement project
that targets mortgage lending discrimination generally, and predatory
lending in particular. This year's Fair Housing Initiatives Program
(FHIP) encouraged grant proposals from fair housing groups who,
among their other activities, would place a special emphasis on
educating and enforcing the Fair Housing Act against predatory lending
recent FHIP Notice for Funding Availability also created a national
campaign to educate the public on the dangers of abusive lending
Department, through FHIP, is focusing attention on problems faced
by persons within the Colonias Southwest border area, which may
include predatory-lending type practices. We believe that the plight
of the persons living in the Colonias is a national problem that
deserves national attention.
also reflects the Bush Administration's commitment to tapping the
potential of faith-based and other grassroots organizations, including
by partnering them with the traditional fair housing organizations.
This both honors and reflects the roots of the fair housing movement
within the community of faith-based organizers.
President has launched his New Freedom Initiative, an effort designed
to help persons with disabilities live more independently in all
has a great responsibility to make sure that its own programs are
accessible to people with disabilities and otherwise safeguard their
rights because a disproportionate share of people with disabilities
rely on federally-assisted housing.
a recent accessibility compliance inspection, HUD found the District
of Columbia Housing Authority to be in violation of Section 504
by failing to provide enough accessible units for persons with disabilities.
As a result, the Housing Authority signed a Voluntary Compliance
Agreement that calls for the DCHA to make 6 percent of its housing
stock (about 510 units) fully-accessible to persons with mobility
impairments, and make up to 2 percent more (about 170 units) of
its housing stock accessible, as needed, to residents who have visual
or hearing disabilities. DCHA will meet the 6 percent fully accessible
requirement by November 2006.
also found the Boston Housing Authority in violation of Section
504 because it didn't make an adequate number of accessible units
available to persons with disabilities. Under a Voluntary Compliance
Agreement, the Boston Housing Authority agreed to make five percent
of its housing stock, or 700 units, fully-accessible to persons
with mobility impairments. Structural modifications must begin no
later than July 1, 2002, and must be completed by December 5, 2005.
have increased the number of Section 504 compliance reviews last
year to 60. This year we will complete 80, and we are achieving
substantial results. The Department has put renewed effort into
training its staff to conduct these reviews effectively and prepare
strong Voluntary Compliance Agreements to resolve all findings of
noncompliance In 2002, the Department's offices of Public and Indian
Housing, Housing, and Community, Planning and Development have also
reissued four notices informing thousands of federal funding recipients
of the requirements of Section 504, Fair Housing Act, and the Americans
with Disabilities Act.
addition, we are working to increase the number of accessible, private
housing opportunities that are available to persons with disabilities.
has awarded over $2.5 million to KPMG to develop and conduct training
and technical guidance on the Fair Housing Act accessibility requirements
for persons engaged in designing, approving, and building multifamily
housing. As part of this project, KPMG will set up resource centers
in different parts of the country where architects, builders, and
others can obtain technical guidance on specific design questions.
is also working with industry and others to achieve greater compliance.
HUD and the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) have signed
a Partnership Accord, whereby HUD and NAHB will undertake a broad
training, education and outreach effort targeted specifically at
builders, property owners, civil engineers, architects, building
code officials and State and local governments. Together, HUD and
NAHB will encourage State and local jurisdictions to adopt and implement
building codes that meet the requirements of the Act.
has awarded a $900,000 grant to the International Code Council,
in partnership with the National Organization on Disability and
with support from the National Association of Home Builders, to
undertake a review of State and local building codes, and to encourage
the adoption of codes that are consistent with the Fair Housing
Act, its regulations, and HUD's accessibility guidelines. The effort
calls for ensuring that more apartments, condominiums and other
housing covered by the law are built to be accessible to people
with disabilities, and to inform state and local governments about
the safe harbors for compliance with the Act's requirements.
is also implementing a Memorandum of Understanding with the Departments
of Justice and the Treasury to ensure that low-income, residential
rental housing placed in service under the IRS-administered low-income
housing tax credit program is accessible to people with disabilities.
The tax-credit program is currently the largest Federal producer
of low-income housing, providing an estimated 100,000 new housing
units per year, and it has led to the construction or reconstruction
of over 1.2 million units of housing since its inception in 1986.
addition to making sure that new housing is built correctly in the
first place and taking action against those housing providers who
have failed to comply with those provisions of the Fair Housing
Act, HUD is enforcing the Fair Housing Act against those housing
providers who refuse to make reasonable and necessary allowances
in their building operation for people with disabilities.
these individual cases that HUD and our partners receive, there's
little research available on the full nature and extent of the discrimination
people with disabilities face in private housing. HUD will soon
seek competitive bids on a $1 million contract to develop methods
examining and measuring the discrimination experienced by persons
with disabilities when they search for rental housing. This nationwide
report, the first of its kind, examine the bias persons with mental
and physical disabilities experience when the seek housing as well
as how housing providers address requests for reasonable accommodations
and modifications as in the example above.
closing, we believe that all of the foregoing efforts, when combined
with appropriate enforcement actions and timely processing of complaints,
will enable the Department and our nation to strike a decisive blow
in the fight against discrimination.
look forward to working with industry, community leaders, local
governments, fair housing advocates, and Capitol Hill to bring everyone
in America over the threshold to equal opportunity and justice.
concludes my formal written statement and I am happy to answer any
questions you may have.
Content Archived: June 25, 2010