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Community Development

Fair Housing Facts

In recognition of April as Fair Housing Month, the Department of Housing and Urban Development provides the following facts concerning the Fair Housing Act:

  • The Fair Housing Act protects everyone. No one can be denied housing because of their race, color, religion, sex, national origin, familial status, or disability.
  • The assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King on April 4, 1968 prompted passage of Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968, known as the Fair Housing Act. The bill was signed by President Lyndon Johnson on April 11, 1968.
  • Within one year of its passage, HUD began receiving 1,000 complaints a year. By 1988, complaints leveled off to about 5,000 a year.
  • In 1989, additional amendments were implemented to strengthen the Fair Housing Act. They extended the act to cover discrimination based on disability and family status and added new enforcement mechanisms. These new provisions stimulated a dramatic increase in complaints. By the mid-1990's, HUD was receiving 10,000 complaints a year.
  • HUD works with some 80 state and local agencies to review and investigate fair housing complaints In the last 9 years,
  • HUD and its partner agencies have resolved nearly 25,000 complaints.
  • HUD and its partner agencies found 4,000 cases of real discrimination.
  • Two-thirds of the housing discrimination cases investigated by HUD resulted in positive outcomes for the complainant.

Here are some of the protections we enjoy because of the Fair Housing Act:

  • Apartment managers cannot deny housing to blind people just because they have seeing eye dogs.
  • Apartment buildings with 4 or more units, built after March 13, 1991, must be accessible to people with disabilities. If the building has more than one story, but no elevators, then the ground floor units must be accessible. If the building does have elevators, then all units must be accessible.
  • Apartment owners and managers must approve reasonable modifications to apartments and common areas to accommodate people with disabilities, as long as those tenants pay for the modifications.
  • It is not permissible to ask whether an applicant for an apartment has a disability or to ask about the nature or severity of the disability.
  • An Administrative Law Judge can order landlords who discriminate to pay penalties.
  • Mortgage companies cannot discriminate when making loans. HUD is proud of the fact that nearly 120 mortgage lenders have gone a step farther by signing a Fair Lending Agreement, to promote the principles of the Fair Housing Act.

To file a fair housing complaint, contact the Department of Housing and Urban Development toll free at 1-800-669-9777.

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