April 21, 2017

Knowing Your Rights the Best Ally to Ending Housing Discrimination

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This Fair Housing Month, HUD is partnering with dozens of national, state, local and nonprofit partners throughout the nation to promote fair housing facts and ideals.

We do this every year because for many people who face housing discrimination, the worst thing is not knowing their rights. Since 1968, the Fair Housing Act has protected people from housing discrimination under seven core categories: Race, Color, National Origin, Religion, Sex, Familial Status and Disability.

Still, last year HUD and our Fair Housing Assistance Program partners received more than 8,300 complaints alleging some form of discrimination under these categories. Every day, discrimination still happens. Sometimes it’s a blatant ad that says “No Kids.” But often, it’s a subtle lie to a single mom, a person in a wheelchair or to an immigrant of “Sorry, the apartment has been rented.”

Is this discrimination? It may or may not be, but under the Fair Housing Act, you have the right to report the incident and HUD will investigate it. Part of our goal is to help families recognize discrimination when it happens.

Our 2016 Annual Fair Housing Report to Congress details the public education work HUD’s Office of Fair Housing conducts to try to educate families and individuals on their rights so they can exercise their rights and report discrimination.

For example, HUD’s Fair Housing Initiatives Program (FHIP) awarded $38 million in competitive grants last year to 155 organizations to help enforce the Fair Housing Act, and to educate the public and industry stakeholders on the latest fair housing developments. This includes “Know Your Rights” workshops, trainings, speaking engagements, newsletters and community presentations.

And as part of the Education and Outreach Initiative, the FHIP program awards up to $1 million for a national media campaign each year. In 2016, the National Fair Housing Alliance received the grant to develop a multimedia educational campaign titled A Zip Code Should Not Determine a Child’s Future.

If you want materials to help educate others in your neighborhood or community, you can also go to HUD’s website to download other fair housing posters and materials, such as printable brochures.

Finally, if you or a member of your family or community believes their rights have been violated, you can call the fair housing toll-free number at (800) 669-9777 to file a complaint, or you can file a complaint online.

Together, with the right information, we can put an end to housing discrimination.

Krista Mills is HUD’s Deputy Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity.

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