Just as a police officer enforces the law, an Equal Opportunity Specialist at HUD enforces the Fair Housing Act that prohibits discrimination in the sale or rental of housing based on race/color, national origin, disability, religion, family status, and gender. One of the duties of these fair housing cops walking the beat is to investigate and settle allegations of housing discrimination.
Recently, HUD’s Stephanie Waller worked on a case involving claims a mortgage lender refused to accept a loan application from the adult son of a Louisiana woman with disabilities. In the end, Charles Schwab Bank agreed to pay $30,000 to settle the charges. I asked Ms. Waller the following questions about what’s it like to investigate fair housing cases:
What’s a “typical day” like for you?
As part of a fair housing investigation, HUD will interview the complainant, the respondent, and pertinent witnesses, so a typical day for me might involve interviewing key parties and witnesses, preparing data requests and analyzing pertinent documents relevant to a discrimination allegation.
How involved were you in the recent Charles Schwab agreement?
For this case, I obtained pertinent information after interviewing both parties and introduced conciliation as a viable resolution. The Fair Housing Act requires HUD to bring the parties together to attempt conciliation throughout the investigation of every fair housing complaint. The choice to conciliate the complaint is completely voluntary on the part of both parties. In this case, Charles Schwab agreed to pay the victims $30,000 as well as modify some of its existing policies to settle the discrimination claim.
What kind of experience do you need to investigate housing discrimination cases?
It doesn’t hurt to have good communication and negotiation skills, a background in investigating, researching, civil rights, and a passion to help people. That’s what a career in public service is all about.
Would you like to be a fair housing cop charged with enforcing the Fair Housing Act? And if you feel like you’ve been a victim of housing discrimination contact us or call 1-800-669-9777.