Fair-Housing Report Cites Continuing Abuses

National Fair Housing Alliance (NFHA) has issued a report that states housing discrimination in the nation is rising,[/b] primarily due to the worsening foreclosure crisis and Internet advertising that violates fair-housing laws. ‘Fair Housing Enforcement: Time for a Change,’ NFHA's 2009 Fair Housing Trends Report, also notes that 93 private nonprofit fair-housing organizations processed almost twice as many cases last year as the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the U.S. Department of Justice, and 107 state and local government agencies combined. Fair-housing complaints handled by private groups jumped 17% from the previous year to 20,173, according to NFHA, which amounts to 66% of all national complaints. In 2008, HUD handled only 2,123 fair-housing complaints, state and local agencies handled 8,429, and the Department of Justice (DOJ) handled only 33 cases. The NFHA report states that private fair-housing centers around the country have seen more cases of discrimination in mortgage lending than ever before. Yet, HUD initiated only four investigations into lending discrimination last year and DOJ brought only one mortgage lending case. In addition, HUD handled only 60 fair-lending complaints in 2008, compared to 1,500 handled by private fair-housing centers. ‘Fair-housing advocates have been warning the federal government for a decade, to no avail, about the damage that abusive lending would bring,’ says Shanna L. Smith, NFHA president and CEO. ‘For too long, HUD and DOJ have stood by while people and neighborhoods of color have been targeted for predatory loans and stripped of equity. As we look forward to working with the new administration to bring in an era of change, the change must begin with HUD's and DOJ's fair housing enforcement programs.’ NFHA adds that it filed more than 350 complaints based on Internet advertising discrimination with HUD last year, citing advertisements that appear to discriminate against families with children. All types of discrimination against families increased between 2007 and 2008. ‘Ads that we have seen, like 'Indoor pets okay, no kids,' are a clear violation of federal law and are simply unacceptable,’ says Smith. ‘As more and more people turn to the Internet for information, we anticipate hundreds more complaints from around the country. HUD needs to step up to the plate.’ SOURCE: National Fair Housing Alli


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