April 1, 2011

HUD Celebrates Fair Housing Month

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April marks Fair Housing Month and the 43rd anniversary of President Johnson signing the Fair Housing Act into law. Borne out of the tragic assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King and the culmination of local and national civil rights struggles, the Fair Housing Act established the Office of Fair Housing & Equal Opportunity (FHEO) at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. At FHEO, we and our partners and allies within HUD and across the nation carry out and advance the cause of equality in housing throughout the year.

Too often, where we live determines our opportunities in life, including where we find employment, where our children go to school, and the extent to which we have access to vital community services and amenities. Where we live greatly influences our overall quality of life. By itself, the Fair Housing Act does not end barriers to living free from discrimination. That cause depends upon vigorous civil rights law enforcement, sustained public education, working with housing providers and the real estate industry, and ensuring that HUD’s own house is in order.

Every April, we go beyond recognizing the many individuals whose determination and perseverance significantly contributed to the passage of the law – visionary leaders like Senators Edward Brooke and Walter Mondale, who co-sponsored the initial legislation. As with other civil rights advances, the path to the Fair Housing Act began not in Washington, D.C., but by brave men and women in cities and towns across the nation and their advocates whose principal aim was to create better living environments for their families, free from discrimination.

Our 2011 Fair Housing Month theme, “Live Free,” sends a powerful message that discrimination has no home in America and that no person should be denied housing or treated differently because of their race, color, national origin, religion, gender, family status, or disability.

We are proud of the progress but not yet satisfied. We build on that progress and lengthen the vision. In the past few months, our work has resulted in relief for discrimination victims in Renton, Washington where African American and Latino tenants were charged higher rents for the same units; in Pennsylvania where a mother was evicted for adopting a young boy; and in Alabama where a trailer owner turned off the water to a white family’s unit until the young woman “lost” her black boyfriend. On a more systemic basis, our work creates expanded services and investments in minority communities in Southern Illinois, ends lending policies that discriminate against women on maternity leave and ensures that HUD dollars meaningfully promote self-sufficiency for public housing residents – access to jobs – and contracts for the companies who create those opportunities.

Together, FHEO and all of HUD share a singular purpose to invest public funds in communities that promote and expand opportunities for all people. And we work to ensure that HUD housing and programs are open to all families, irrespective of marital status, gender identity and sexual orientation.

The Fair Housing Act means that all persons can live free in the neighborhoods they choose. We bring greater opportunity and resolve to end housing segregation. The product of our work together will be most greatly felt by people we may never meet and in the years ahead. Nonetheless, the importance of this effort to chart a new course of equality and opportunity is fundamental to America’s founding and America’s future. That is what we celebrate in Fair Housing Month.

20 Responses to HUD Celebrates Fair Housing Month

  1. Pingback: 2011 Fair Housing Month – 43rd Anniversary of the Fair Housing Act « Austin Tenants Council

  2. And exactly how would one “live free in the neighborhoods they choose”? I’ve been living in my neighborhood, paying a monthly rent for close to 20 years now. If I had my own house, i’d either own it now or be ten years away from owning it.

    I’m by no means poor, but i’m nowhere near rich. My credit’s probably on the borderline and since I pretty much live paycheck to paycheck (for the most part), I wouldn’t have the fees needed for a “down payment”.

    So that means that I probably wouldn’t have the cash nor the credit score required to jump through the MANY hoops that banks and realtors require you to jump through. Yet, i’ve been paying some other homeowner rent for close to twenty years now.

    Where does that leave me?

  3. Living Free is about living without discrimination. It does not mean living for $free$. Living in the neighborhood of your choice does not mean a neighborhood you can not afford. It means that which ever neighborhood you choose, you will not be denied that choice because of race, sex, etc. You will be denied to live there if you can not afford it. These days no one is going to provide a loan to anyone who is a risky borrower. This country is still digging out of the mess from the time we did that. You and I are paying for it. So some people must rent. If you can’t save for a down payment and you can’t pay debts off on time, you would not be a successful home owner. Home ownership is not a one-time purchase. There are recurring maintenance costs and taxes as well. Don’t let Republicans dismantle the great society. Make Democrats continue the fight to make it even more great.

  4. Where it leaves you now is living in an apatment where your maintenance needs are taken care of, where you can give notice and move whenever you please, the grass is mowed etc. I bought a house 26 years ago, brand new…now I am paying for new roof, new HVAC, new hot water heaters, home owners association dues, huge insurance premium…and would love to sell it but would have to practically give it away. Renting sounds like a good deal to me.

  5. can you point me in the direction if someone is being discriminated against and harassment….from the mgr. to the company that owns the senior center where i live…?

    • Hi Stacy,
      If you feel you have been discriminated against, you can contact the Housing Discrimination Hotline at 1-800-669-9777 (Voice) | 1-800-927-9275 (TTY). You can also visit HUD’s Fair Housing website at for more information. I hope this information helps.

  6. hi, i need help i have 9 days to come up with rent in my apartment. i tried to get hud but they told me in my area that it is closed.i was informed by the landlord today(4-6-11) that if she doesnt get rent from me she will file for eviction. im disabled and receiving s.s. disibilty i was wondering if there were any laws out there to help people with their rent. i have a teenage daughter and she lives with me. i used to be homeless and i don’t want to be that again. how can i get help?im receiving disibility payments but i don’t have enough to pay for rent. is there anyone w/ the government agency that can help me?

    • Dear Julie,
      I know this is frightening. I suggest that you call your local legal aid group. I was a housing specialist for our community and they would help our clients. You can also see if there is a 211 in your community. 211 is a community resource. Many communities have one. You just dial 211 and they have people ready to help you.

      Since I don’t know what city you live in I can’t be more specific.

      Hang in there. I’ve been there and I know how awful you must feel. You’ve got to keep fighting.

      Julia

  7. I am homeless and i dont know where to start. I have a disibility and on a fixed income…..God help me Im In Houston/huble/Katy tx….going from one place to another…I cant even keep my GRAND BABIES. I Have a son in the Air Force. Help me please

  8. I appreciate the drive to provide fair housing. Housing discrimination takes place in a number of ways. For one thing: Landlords requiring people to make 3 times the amount of the rent. People who are receiving Social Security Disability cannot pay 3 times the rent. They can’t get in. The places that will take you are the lower quality apartments in bad neighborhoods. There is section 8 for disabled people but most of the time the list is closed.

    Landlords will often not rent to people on welfare. Again, they don’t make three times the rent.

    I had a voucher for “Shelter Plus Care,” a subsidy from HUD where I would only have to pay 1/3rd of my income on rent. I was told that because my SSDI payment was not 3 times the amount of the rent I could not rent there. I told them that they were discriminating because of my disability. They said no that I could get a roommate to up my income and then they would rent to me!

    Landlords hide discrimination about race, disability, or class in their requirements for renting. There is still a definite color line, a line against welfare, against SSI, against the poor.

    This line also goes against the homeless, those with criminal backgrounds and others. If you look in our “ghettos” who is there? It is still the African American, The Latinos, the Welfare families, The immigrants, The Disabled.

    While the law may define discrimination as illegal: There is still a huge amount of discrimination going on. How can you prove that they discriminated against you because you are disabled? Are of the wrong race? Are a single parent? Are on public assistance? Are the wrong gender or sexual orientation?

    When are we going to get down to the reality that we are all facing???

    Julia Acuña

  9. Pingback: National Fair Housing Month « SW Portland Real Estate Scoop

  10. Me llamo Maria Madre soltero con dos niñas abuso domestico ya no se q voy hacer sin trabajo la ayuda q estoy resibiendo no me alcansa nesesito ayuda de apartamentos o casa bajo ingreso ewso seria un alibio para mi por favor a quien tengo q acudir para esta ayuda mis saludos Maria

  11. I am writing about the denial of children’s right to play at the Mission Gardens Apartments in Santa Cruz, California — it is a privately owned Section 8 project managed by The John Stewart Company (JSCO) and administered under contract to HUD by the California Housing Finance Agency.

    JSCO instituted a tome of house rules, similar to what they impose at all their properties statewide, which deny the rights of children to play freely in the Mission Gardens apartment complex. They forbid chasing balls, climbing trees, playing in bushes, riding children’s play vehicles on sidewalks and in the parking lot. There are even more odious restrictions than this, but they are too long to list. The aforementioned ones gives you an idea what their restrictions are all about.

    The Mission Gardens apartment complex has no real common areas except the sidewalks and the parking lot. JSCO hasn’t provided any designated play areas. Thus resident parents risk lease violations by allowing their children to play in the complex.

    Worse, the apartment complex has an adjoining park on the property. JSCO tore down the play equipment there, took out the barbecues and ripped up the benches. There was a gang murder of a nineteen year old kid in the park last year:

    Now the park is dominated by drug dealers who carry out their transactions in broad daylight. Thus the park is not fit for children to play in, even without play equipment.

    Children’s play is a prerequisite for normal physical, mental and social development.

    Given that this is Fair Housing Month and the Mission Gardens Apartments is a privately owned Section 8 property with a HUD Section 8 HAP contract, what can be done to ensure children have the right to play free of crime and artificial encumbrances devised by JSCO? How can residents require JSCO to make their park safe and provide play equipment, to take back the park from drug dealers and return it to resident children?

    • Hello John,
      Thank you for your comment. According to the Fair Housing Act, it is illegally to discriminate against families with children. It is also illegal to impose special rules and restrictions to only the families with children. You can file a Fair Housing complaint by calling 1-800-669-9777 (Voice) | 1-800-927-9275 (TTY). You can also visit the Fair Housing website at . I hope this information was helpful. Please let me us know if we can further assist you. Thank you.

  12. I am writing about the denial of children’s right to play at the Mission Gardens Apartments in Santa Cruz, California. Mission Gardens is a privately owned Section 8 project managed by The John Stewart Company (JSCO) and administered under contract to HUD by the California Housing Finance Agency.

    In September 2009, JSCO implemented a hug tome of rules, similar to what they impose at all their properties statewide, denying children’s right to free play at Mission Gardens. They forbid ball chasing, hopscotch, playing in trees and bushes, and riding children’s play vehicles on sidewalks and in the parking lot. There are more odious restrictions than this, but they are too long to list here.

    Because the only common areas to the apartment complex are the sidewalks and the parking lot, this leaves resident parents open to lease violations if they allow their children to play inside the apartment complex. JSCO has no designated play areas in the apartment complex.

    Worse, the apartment complex has an adjoining park which is part of the property. But JSCO tore down the play equipment there, not replacing it, and also ripped out the barbecue and the benches. The park has become a home base for drug dealers who carry out their transactions in broad daylight. Thus the park would not be safe for children even if JSCO had play equipment there. A nineteen year old teen was murdered in the park last year:

    Children’s play is prerequisite for normal physical, mental and social development.

    Given this is Fair Housing Month, how can Mission Gardens parents reclaim their apartment complex for their children to play in? How can they require JSCO to make the adjoining park safe for children to play in with new play equipment to play on?

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  15. It is interesting to find out that the Fair Housing Act began not in Washington, D.C., but by brave men and women in cities and towns across the nation and their advocates whose principal aim was to create better living environments for their families, free from discrimination.

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