A report released today by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) shows that the agency is resolving individual housing discrimination complaints faster, increasing its focus on complaints that affect multiple people, and launching more investigations using its authority to initiate cases on behalf of discrimination victims where no one has filed a complaint. HUD's Annual State of Fair Housing Report also illustrates how the agency is helping municipalities and state and local agencies receiving HUD funding to comply with civil rights requirements and holding non-compliant recipients accountable.
"Our goal is to put an end to unlawful housing discrimination," said John Trasviaa, HUD Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity. "We have made progress in reducing housing discrimination, but more work needs to be done to make 'fair housing...part of the American way of life,' as President Johnson said in 1968 when he signed the Fair Housing Act into law."
More than 10,000 fair housing discrimination complaints were filed in fiscal year 2010, according to the report.
Discrimination based on a person's disability continued to be the largest single category of complaints. Of the 10,155 complaints filed with HUD and its Fair Housing Assistance Program partner agencies, 48 percent alleged disability discrimination, 34 percent alleged discrimination based on race, and 15 percent alleged discrimination based on family status - consistent with the number and type of complaints received during the previous three years.
The report shows that in fiscal year 2010, HUD and its Fair Housing Assistance Program partner agencies processed 4,494 new complaints within 100 days, 328 more than in 2009 and 583 more than in 2008. The report also shows that HUD proactively pursued its own Secretary-initiated investigations, charging four and conciliating eight cases that developed from such investigations, and launching another 10 such investigations.
This year's report shows that HUD has placed greater emphasis on ensuring that recipients of HUD funding create greater housing opportunities for minorities, families with children, and people with disabilities. In 2009, Westchester County, New York, a recipient of HUD funding, entered into a settlement agreement with HUD and others to resolve claims that the county had falsely certified compliance with the requirement to affirmatively further fair housing. HUD continues to work with the federal monitor and the county to ensure the county's full compliance with the agreement.
HUD's activities in fiscal year 2010 have led to significant relief for victims of housing discrimination, including:
African Americans in whose neighborhoods a bank did not locate branches or provide banking services.
A conciliation agreement between HUD, the Metropolitan St. Louis Equal Housing Opportunity Council, and the First National Bank of St. Louis, Missouri, provides that the bank will increase its commitment to minority and low-income communities by, among other things, investing more than $2.5 million over four years in St. Louis City, North St. Louis County, and St. Clair County, Illinois.
Women on maternity leave who were denied mortgage loans and insurance.
HUD launched a landmark maternity leave case investigation that resulted in a settlement with Cornerstone Mortgage Company and a charge against Mortgage Guaranty Insurance Corporation ( MGIC ). In the settlement, a Washington state woman was awarded $15,000 based on her claims that she was denied a mortgage loan even though she was on paid maternity leave and planned to return to work. The settlement also created a $750,000 victims' fund to compensate other borrowers who experienced discrimination because they were on pregnancy or maternity leave at the time they were applying for a loan. In a separate action, HUD charged MGIC with discriminating against a Pennsylvania family by denying their application for mortgage insurance unless and until the wife returned to work from maternity leave.
African Americans, Hispanic Americans, Asian Americans, and families with children who were tenants or prospective tenants of an apartment complex that engaged in widespread discriminatory rental practices.
In 2010, HUD charged the owners and managers of the subject apartment complex in Renton, Washington. In 2011, the Department of Justice reached a settlement agreement that provides that the housing provider will, among other things, pay $85,000 in damages and $25,000 in civil penalties and maintain a common recreational area for all tenants, including children.
Six families with children who were charged fees for using the common recreational areas of a condominium.
In 2009, HUD charged the owners and managers of the subject condominium in Methuen, Massachusetts.
In 2010, the Department of Justice obtained a consent decree under which the housing provider must, among other things, pay $130,000 in damages and $20,000 in civil penalties.
In addition, the report highlights how HUD, through its Section 3 program, is creating jobs for low-income residents of areas where HUD-funded construction is taking place, and contracting opportunities for the businesses that hire them.
Between 2009 and 2010, the program provided jobs to more than 16,000 residents and contracts to 2,900 Section 3 businesses. HUD also announced, in June, that it was providing $600,000 in competitive grants to enable public housing authorities and state and local agencies that receive Section 3 funding to hire a program coordinator to help report on the success of their job creation and training efforts.
Going forward, HUD will continue to reach out to groups that have historically lacked sufficient protection from housing discrimination, such as lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender persons.
HUD has announced that it will issue a rule to clarify that the term "family," when used in HUD programs, includes all eligible LGBT couples and individuals.
Furthermore, the Department is expanding its education and outreach to immigrants.
HUD is conducting fair housing conferences throughout the nation to raise awareness of fair housing rights among advocacy and social service organizations working with immigrant communities. Also, as part of HUD's efforts to make its programs accessible to all, the agency has translated more than 100 vital documents into 17 different languages.
For a copy of HUD's Annual State of Fair Housing Report, go to: portal.hud.gov/hudportal/documents/huddocid=ANNUALREPORT2010.PDF
FHEO and its partners in the Fair Housing Assistance Program investigate more than 10,000 housing discrimination complaints annually.
People who believe they are the victims of housing discrimination should contact HUD at 1-800-669-9777 ( voice ), 800-927-9275 ( TTY ).