The federal agency charged with enforcing the Fair Housing Act is giving $38.3 million to nonprofits across the country who will help the government fight housing discrimination by carrying out testing and enforcement programs that can land real estate brokerages in hot water.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) awarded the grants to 95 fair housing organizations and other nonprofit agencies in 38 states and Washington, D.C.
Most of the money — $24.7 million — will fund testing and enforcement activities to prevent or eliminate discriminatory housing practices.
Another $9.8 million will be used to help build the capacity and effectiveness of nonprofit fair housing organizations, particularly those that focus on the rights and needs of underserved groups such as rural and immigrant populations, HUD said.
The remaining $3.8 million will be spent to educate the public and housing providers about their rights and responsibilities under federal, state, and local fair housing laws.
“Everyone should have access to the neighborhoods and homes for which they financially qualify,” said Bryan Greene, HUD acting assistant secretary for fair housing and equal opportunity, in a statement.
A recent study conducted by the Urban Institute for HUD found that while minorities are less likely to encounter blatant discrimination when house or apartment hunting than they once were, they are still told about and shown fewer housing units than whites.
Another study commissioned by HUD found that same-sex couples looking to rent homes were more likely to experience unfavorable treatment than heterosexual couples.
Among the groups receiving funding today, the National Fair Housing Alliance received the most: three grants worth $2.15 million.
In the last decade, the national fair housing group has filed complaints with HUD against several real estate brokerages, alleging that investigations conducted by the group’s testers revealed “egregious” housing discrimination, including racial steering.
Among the companies named were several affiliated with the country’s largest real estate brokerage, NRT Inc., including New York-based firm The Corcoran Group, as well as some affiliated with real estate franchisor Re/Max.