I like to think that the “H” in HUD (Department of Housing and Urban Development) not only stands for housing, but for help: Helping consumers make important decisions about their housing needs or informing them about programs here at HUD. As we approach National Consumer Week, (March 6-12) a campaign that encourages consumers nationwide to take full advantage of their and make better-informed decisions, I wanted to let consumers know about some of the important information that HUD has to offer.
Recently, HUD awarded over $40 million to 108 fair housing organizations and non-profit agencies across the country to assist HUD in helping people who feel they’ve been denied housing because they have a family, their race/color, national origin, disability, religion, or gender. Being denied a home for any of these reasons is against the law and violates the Fair Housing Act. These organizations will use these funds to investigate allegations of housing discrimination, educate the public and the housing industry about their rights and responsibilities under the Act. For example, a New York resident who uses a wheelchair knew to contact HUD and file a complaint because his landlord refused to give him an accessible parking space.
Victims of domestic violence may also be victims of housing discrimination and may not even know it. Because they are often served with eviction notices following domestic violence incidents, landlords cite the danger posed to other tenants and property damage caused by the abuser as the reason for eviction. To help out people in these types of situations, HUD recently issued guidance stating that domestic violence victims may have basis to file a housing discrimination complaint with HUD. The guidance states HUD authority, under the Fair Housing Act, to investigate whether the denial or eviction violates the Act based on gender or another protected class.
In addition to combating housing discrimination, HUD is also dedicated to getting the “lead out,” of homes, that is. Earlier this week, HUD awarded $7.8 million in grants to 14 local projects in nine states to conduct a wide range of activities that include eliminating lead and housing-related hazards in thousands of homes, and researching the cost effectiveness of home-based interventions for children with asthma. Lead is a known toxin that can impair children’s development and have effects lasting into adulthood.
From housing discrimination to lead abatement in homes, HUD can help. For questions about discrimination or to file a complaint online, visit HUD’s Fair Housing page or call 1-800-669-9777. For more information on lead dangers visit HUD’s Healthy Home page.
Additionally, HUD is also a great resource for questions about and information pertaining to Housing Choice Vouchers (Section Eight), HUD Homes, Housing Counselors, Rental Assistance, Landlord Tenant issues and many more, visit www.hud.gov today.
See, the “H” in HUD really does stand for help!