“This is a pivotal year for fair housing,” said Lisa Rice, National Fair Housing Alliance president and CEO. “As the 2018 trends report shows, we must put an end to the many institutionalized barriers that prevent too many families in this country from fair access to housing.”
More and more, this outlook is becoming the norm for fair housing groups, saying it is time to end fair housing discrimination.
In April, the Fair Housing Act marked its 50th anniversary, a marker celebrated by fair housing groups across the country and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Now, the NFHA released its 2018 Fair Housing Trends Report: Making Every Neighborhood a Place of Opportunity.
In 2017, there were 28,843 reported housing discrimination complaints, a slight increase from complaints from the 28,181 complaints reported in 2016. However, most of these complaints, about 71.3%, were handled by private, nonprofit fair housing organizations.
HUD, on the other hand, processed just 1,311 complaints, less than 5% of the total, according to the report. State and local governmental Fair Housing Assistance Program agencies processes 6,896 complaints and the Department of Justice brought 41 cases.
While the total number of fair housing complaints increased in 2017, HUD and the FHAP processed fewer complaints than the 1,371 and 7,030 complaints reported in 2016, respectively. The number of complaints processed by the DOJ increased by just one, up from 40 cases in 2016.
But while government agencies might be slowly increasing their involvement in fair housing cases, private fair housing organizations handling the majority of complaints is nothing new, as shown in the chart below, which dates back to 2008.
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And according the new report from NFHA, that is the problem. The biggest obstacle to fair housing rights is the federal government’s failure to enforce the law vigorously, the report explained.
“We must commit to making every neighborhood a place of opportunity for its residents and to making all communities open to all people, regardless of race, national origin, disability or other protected status,” Rice said. “It has been 50 years, and the Fair Housing Act still has not been fully implemented. We cannot build a thriving society as long as our nation is plagued by discrimination, segregation, and severe economic inequality.”
In 2017, the most common types of fair housing complaints included complaints based on disability at 57%, race at 19% and family status at 9%.