Race Discrimination and Housing
In 1968, Congress passed the Fair Housing Act to allow equal access to housing regardless of race. The Fair Housing Act and its various amendments ensure that property owners, lenders, and landlords do not discriminate against individuals because of their race.
Property owners, landlords and lenders cannot do any of the following to an individual based on their race or ethnicity:
Most forms of housing that are available are covered under the Fair Housing Act. However, there are some exceptions, such as:
The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is the federal agency responsible for enforcing the Fair Housing Act. HUD has a complaint process for those individuals who believe they have suffered from race discrimination. Through HUD, individuals may file a Housing Discrimination Complaint Form to register a complaint against a property owner. Once a complaint is received, HUD will determine if a local agency has the same enforcement powers as HUD and, if so, refer the case to that agency. If HUD handles the case itself, it will attempt to reach an agreement with the violator.
In some instances, a case may be heard at a local HUD office. If the case does go before an administrative hearing, then the person bringing the complaint (the "complainant") has the right to counsel. Both parties may use a HUD attorney or they may use their own legal counsel.
At a hearing, the administrative law judge will determine whether or not monetary damages have occurred and whether the complainant is entitled to damages such as pain and suffering and humiliation. The complainant may also qualify for equitable relief, a civil penalty, as well as the attorney's fees and costs. An individual is entitled to file suit in a federal district or state court within two years of a violation.
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