WASHINGTON - The Department of Housing and Urban Development today released the Obama Administration's first annual report on the state of fair housing in America. HUD's Fiscal Year 2009 annual State of Fair Housing Report highlights the agency's progress in enforcing the Fair Housing Act, identifies challenges that remain, and demonstrates its commitment to acting now to end housing discrimination.
The report, which covers the last full fiscal year of HUD's complaint investigations and fair housing activities, was released during HUD's National Fair Housing Policy Conference in New Orleans. The report shows that discrimination based on a person's disability status continues to account for the largest-single category of complaints. Of the 10,242 complaints filed with HUD and its fair housing partners during fiscal year 2009, 44 percent alleged disability discrimination, while 31 percent alleged discrimination based on race, and 20 percent based on family status. The number and type of complaints received are consistent with the previous two years.
"Despite much progress and hard work, Americans continue to face housing discrimination because they're in a wheelchair, are a different color, or background, or have children," stated John Trasviña, Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity. "This report is a stark reminder that HUD and our fair housing partners must redouble our commitment to end housing discrimination."
This year's report highlights HUD's enforcement efforts, including those that led to changes of policies and equal housing opportunities for racial and ethnic minorities, persons with disabilities, and others. The Department also handled an array of discrimination cases that resulted in compensation for the victims or pertained to families with children. For example:
HUD charged two Tallassee, AL, landlords with violating the Fair Housing Act for allegedly forcing a white family to move out of the house they rented to them after the landlords saw the family talking with African-American neighbors in their front yard. Three months after charging the case, HUD obtained a settlement that required the landlords to pay the African-American family $63,000.
HUD charged a Puerto Rico condominium association with violating the Fair Housing Act for denying a disabled couple the use of two handicap accessible parking spaces. A HUD Administrative Law Judge subsequently ordered the association to pay $25,000 in damages to the couple, and $10,000 in civil penalties for violating the couple's fair housing rights.
HUD charged an Atlanta condominium association and a local real estate company and its agent with discrimination for refusing to sell to families with children. The agent advertised a unit and conditioned the sale to those without children. During HUD's investigation, the agent admitted that several prospective buyers with children younger than 14 inquired about the unit and were told about the restriction.
In addition, the report highlights HUD's efforts to ensure that the agency's core housing programs are open to all, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. Last month, HUD announced that it will now require all applicants for Fiscal Year 2010 grant funding to certify that they have not been charged with a systemic violation of state or local laws that are equivalent to the Fair Housing Act based on a person's lesbian, bisexual, gay, and transgender status.
"HUD and its fair housing partners are on the front lines when it comes to fighting housing discrimination, and our job to prevent it is not complete without addressing 21st Century issues," stated Trasviña.