Ground-Breaking Fair Housing Settlement

Thu, Aug 20, 2009

On August 20, 2009, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Department of Justice and Westchester County, New York announced a $62.5 million ground-breaking fair housing settlement with the Anti-Discrimination Center. In response, Shanna L. Smith, President and CEO of the National Fair Housing Alliance, stated that:

"The settlement announced today by Westchester County, the federal government, and the Anti-Discrimination Center sends a clear message to recipients of federal housing funds everywhere: you must work to reduce barriers to fair housing and help create inclusive, sustainable communities. It is not a suggestion that can be disregarded or ignored. This is in the intent of both the Community Development Block Grant program (CDBG) program and the Fair Housing Act.

The National Fair Housing Alliance urges the more than 1000 CDBG recipients to re-examine their Analyses of Impediments to Fair Housing Choice and evaluate what concrete fair housing programs they are engaged in to eliminate rental, sales, and insurance discrimination, to challenge predatory mortgage lending and fraud scams, and to stop housing-related hate activity. Fair housing groups have the deep local knowledge needed to detect discrimination, and CDBG recipients can work with these non-profit fair housing agencies to guarantee our communities are vibrant, healthy, inclusive and available to everyone regardless of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, disability or family status."

HOPE Fair Housing Center's Executive Director, Bernard J. Kleina, stated that local recipients of CDBG funds need to challenge housing discrimination and segregation and to promote neighborhood diversity which in turn, creates new employment, educational opportunities, and healthier, more stable communities for everyone.

Some CDBG recipients such as DuPage County have, for many years, devoted precious resources to fund fair housing enforcement, testing and education and outreach programs. However, other recipients have either done nothing to promote fair housing, or have stood in the way of equality in housing through its programs and practices. We believe that the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's emphasis on the responsibility of CDBG recipients to "Affirmatively Further Fair Housing" and the recent court settlement should change that.

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