Housing discrimination affects people in all stages of the journey to find a home. It doesn’t matter whether you are a renter, a prospective borrower, or somewhere in between; the rules that make up the Fair Housing Act apply across the board for those looking for a place to live.
The FHA/HUD official site recently published a press release announcing a settlement in a California housing discrimination case; sometimes the victims of housing discrimination are the only ones who can prevent further discrimination from happening. Those who report their experiences do a service to themselves and to future borrowers and renters by helping to end illegal practices such as the ones mentioned in HUDNo.16-035:
“The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced today an agreement with a Cupertino, California-based property management company, its agents and the owners of a Santa Clara apartment complex to resolve allegations they discriminated against applicants based upon their national origin.”
HUD claims that “…the Salwasser Group, Inc. (doing business as Income Property Specialists) and property owners Gary and Mary Drieger discriminated against prospective renters by refusing to accept Mexican forms of identification, while encouraging a Canadian passport holder to apply for an apartment.”
As the press release points out, federal law prohibits such discriminatory practices. “The Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in rental, sales or home lending transactions based on a persons national origin. This includes discrimination based on a persons ancestry or country of birth outside the United States.
“Where a person is from should not influence the housing options that are available to them, says Gustavo Velasquez, HUD Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity, who was quoted in the press release. He adds, The Fair Housing Act requires property owners to treat everyone equally and HUD will continue to take action when they fail to meet that obligation.”
How did this case get the attention of HUD? “Project Sentinel, a fair housing organization based in Santa Clara, filed a complaint after performing fair housing testing that allegedly showed that the owners, through the management company, discriminated on the basis of national origin by refusing to rent, and imposing different terms and conditions regarding government-issued forms of identification.”
According to the press release the respondents allegedly informed testers who offered a Mexican passport and a Mexican consular identification that such identification would not be accepted, but encouraged testers using a Canadian passport to apply.
Under the settlement agreement, “…the owners and management company agreed to pay Project Sentinel a monetary settlement; obtain fair housing training on how not to discriminate; and implement a HUD-approved non-discrimination policy. The owners and manager also agreed to implement a HUD-approved procedure for accepting government-issued forms of identification and post a HUD-approved fair housing poster in the public area of its rental property”.
Any borrower or renter who has experienced discrimination should file a complaint by contacting the HUD Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity at (800) 669-9777 (voice) or (800) 927-9275 (TTY).
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