It looks like the federal government is taking on housing discrimination.
According to a press release posted on the HUD website, the US Department of Housing and Urban Development will be investing $38 million into the Fair Housing Initiatives program as a way to fight housing discrimination.
A little bit for a lot of people
This money will be made available as grants to fund “a variety of critical fair housing activities, including fair housing testing in the rental and sales market, public education efforts, capacity building, and education and outreach activities.” Here’s how the money breaks down by activity group:
• 7.45 million goes into education and outreach. These activities go out into needy communities and let them know about their rights to fair housing under federal, state and local laws. A million dollars of this fund will run a national media campaign.
• $500,000 will fund initiatives that can expand the “capacity and effectiveness” of fair housing organizations. This should give state and local resources the money they need to effectively scale their operations
• $30.35 million will go to private organizations that investigate and enforce the Fair Housing Act. This money will be invested over a multi-year period
It’s pretty clear from the monetary distribution that empowering the reporting and investigation of fair housing violations is a top priority. According to data from the National Fair Housing association, “it is estimated that there are over 4 million instances of housing discrimination annually in the rental market alone,” even though only 28,181 official complaints were logged last year. Moral of the story?
It’s a vastly underreported issue, and HUD is hoping that an education campaign will increase reported cases.
It’s also worth noting that private fair housing organizations processed 70 percent of complaints, a majority by a long shot. That’s why such a large chunk of the funding goes towards these enforcement agencies.
No better time
The overall funding comes at a crucial juncture too. In that same body of research, the National Fair Housing Association found an increase in housing discrimination activity in 2016 compared to 2015. Additionally, the worst of 2016’s activity seems to concentrate around the fall season, with an increase in hate crimes and harassment cases.
Agencies interested in applying for the grants must apply by September 18, 2017.