Real Estate

HUD dedicates $38 million to fight housing discrimination

FHFA Director Mel Watt explains need for fair housing

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development announced Wednesday it is making funds available to fight housing discrimination.

HUD announced it is making $38 million available through the department’s Fair Housing Initiatives Program. The grants will be offered through three FHIP funding notices to support a variety of fair housing activities.

These activities would include fair housing testing in the rental and sales market, public education efforts, capacity building and education and outreach activities. HUD must receive all applications for the grants by September 18, 2017.

HUD gives funding each year to support organizations interest in enforcing fair housing laws and policies and educate the public, housing providers and local governments about their rights and responsibilities under the Fair Housing Act.

Here are the categories for the grants HUD announced:

Education and Outreach Initiative grants: $7,450,000 is available to organizations that educate the public and housing providers about their rights and responsibilities under federal law. The grants can also support state and local organizations that enforce fair housing laws that are equivalent to the federal Fair Housing Act. This year’s EOI funds include $1 million for a national media campaign.

Fair Housing Organizations Initiative: $500,000 is available to help build the capacity and effectiveness of non-profit fair housing organizations, particularly organizations that focus on the rights and needs of underserved groups, such as rural and immigrant populations.

Private Enforcement Initiative grants: Total PEI multi-year funding is $30.35 million is available to organizations that conduct intake, testing, investigation and litigation of fair housing complaints under the Fair Housing Act.

In a speech Tuesday night at the National Association of Real Estate Brokers’ 70th annual convention in new Orleans, Federal Housing Finance Agency Director Mel Watt explained the consequences when fair housing procedures are not followed.

“The truth is that the egregious historical forms of housing discrimination, such as racially restrictive covenants and overt racist attitudes, have largely given way to other intractable obstacles that negatively impact African American homeownership,” Watt said. “The numbers don’t lie. In 2004, prior to the economic and housing meltdown, African Americans enjoyed a homeownership rate of almost 50%.”

“By 2017 the African American homeownership rate had declined to 42%, almost back to 1994 levels,” he said. “So, on the criteria of homeownership, we are worse off today than we were 20 years ago. Because equity in homes has always represented a major part of African American assets, the impact of the economic and foreclosure crisis on African American wealth has been substantial.”

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