April is Fair Housing Month
All Americans have the right to equal access to affordable and safe housing. The HUD Secretary, Martha Fudge, says even in the 21st century, equal access is still a struggle.
“Fair Housing Month is a time to recommit to our nation’s obligation to ensure that everyone has equal access to safe, affordable housing,” Fudge said in a HUD press release.
She adds, “Unfortunately, housing discrimination still exists, from individuals and families being denied a place to call home because of the color of their skin or where they come from, to landlords refusing to allow persons with disabilities to keep assistance animals, to individuals being denied a place to live because of who they love.”
As the HUD press release points out, in the time of a global pandemic, fair housing is more important than ever. More than five decades after the Fair Housing Act was signed, the HUD journey to end Fair Housing violations continues.
For 2021, one of the key features of Fair Housing Month is a pledge to end housing discrimination. HUD wants to provide help and “redress to those who have experienced housing discrimination, to eliminate racial bias and other forms of discrimination in all stages of home-buying and renting, and to secure equal access to housing opportunity for all” according to the press release.
How widespread is housing discrimination in America? In 2020 HUD took nearly eight thousand complaints of housing discrimination based on non-financial factors such as race, color, national origin, religion, sex, family status, and disability.
During the reporting period, the highest number of complaints were in the categories of disability and race, respectively. Also telling? A line from the press release mentioning that the agency also received complaints that “alleged lending discrimination as well as numerous complaints from women who faced unfair treatment” up to and including sexual harassment.
Sometimes the only person with the power to end continued discrimination are the victims of that discrimination--those who don’t report discrmination in the housing industry enable further violations of the law. Always report Fair Housing Act violations, your actions count.
2021 is the 53rd anniversary of the Fair Housing Act; if you need to file a complaint about discrimination at any stage of the housing process, contact the HUD Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity at (800) 669-9777 (voice) or (800) 877-8339 (Relay). Housing discrimination complaints may also be filed online at hud.gov/fair housing.
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