The funding will help to support a range of fair housing enforcement efforts, including fair housing testing, as well as activities that help educate the public, housing providers and local governments about their rights and responsibilities under the Fair Housing Act.
“Combating housing discrimination requires the aggressive enforcement of the nation’s fair housing laws, but HUD can’t do it alone,” said Gustavo Velasquez, HUD’s assistant secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity “The funding we are announcing today will enable organizations committed to justice and equality to support our efforts to ensure that everyone has equal access to available housing opportunities.”
The categories of grant awards are:
- Private Enforcement Initiative grants (PEI)– These awards help non-profit fair housing enforcement organizations carry out investigations and other enforcement activities to prevent or eliminate discriminatory housing practices.
- Education and Outreach Initiative grants (EOI)– HUD awards these grants to groups that educate the public and housing providers about their rights and responsibilities under federal law or state and local fair housing laws that are substantially equivalent to the Fair Housing Act.
- Fair Housing Organizations Initiative grants (FHOI) – HUD awards these grants to help build the capacity and effectiveness of non-profit fair housing organizations to continue and enhance enforcement of the Fair Housing Act.
It's no surprise that HUD is taking step to end housing discrimination as it has been in the headlines quite a bit in September.
Last week, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and the Department of Justice (DOJ) took action against Hudson City Savings Bank for discriminatory redlining practices, according to an announcement.
"It is apparent to everyone that discriminatory practices in the mortgage market undermine people’s ability to buy a home and build long-term wealth," said Richard Cordray, CFPB director.
He added, "Without access to affordable credit to buy or improve a home, without a mortgage broker nearby, without a bank branch to offer basic services, neighborhoods deteriorate in the long shadow cast by discriminatory practices. The integrity of the consumer financial marketplace is diminished."
Also last week, the city of Oakland, California, filed a lawsuit against Wells Fargo accusing the bank of reverse redlining by targeting minorities for high-cost mortgage loans which later led to foreclosures and blight when the borrowers defaulted.
In addition, financial holding company Evans Bancorp, Inc., recently announced a settlement agreement has been reached with the New York State Attorney General for alleged discriminatory mortgage practices.
“It is essential that all New Yorkers, regardless of the color of their skin or the racial make up of their neighborhoods, be afforded equal access to our banking systems – and the basic benefits of obtaining a mortgage," Attorney General Schneiderman said. “That we continue to see systematic racial and housing discrimination in New York in 2015 is shocking. I will not stand for it.”