The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has appropriated a little more than $19 million toward addressing discriminatory housing practices related to the COVID-19 pandemic. The funds come from President Joe Biden's American Rescue Plan and, according to the department, they be used to address fair housing issues affecting individuals and families experiencing housing instability, including renters and homeowners facing evictions and foreclosures that could be deemed discriminatory.
A press release from HUD explains that grants to private fair housing enforcement organizations will help pay for investigations into complaints related to fair housing as well as education and outreach activities related to the COVID-19 pandemic within communities that historically have faced discrimination.
These underserved populations, according to HUD, include Americans from low-income backgrounds and persons with disabilities, as well as people of color—Black, Hispanic, and Asian American/Pacific Islanders included. Based on an announcement last February—on the heels of President Joe Biden's related day-one executive order that HUD would add "housing discrimination based on gender identity or sexual orientation" to the type of complaints it will investigate, act upon, and apply funds toward—LGBTQ+ advocacy groups also would fall under the types of entities eligible for these grants.
Applicants for the funding may also propose new fair housing projects relating to discriminatory practices arising in connection with the COVID-19 pandemic, HUD reported. Representatives from HUD add that the country's economic and general reconstruction following the height of the coronavirus pandemic relies in large part on ensuring that the virus aftermath does not include displacement of American citizens.
Jeanine Worden, HUD’s Acting Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity calls housing stability a critically important part of America’s continuing recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.
"The funding we’re announcing today will give our fair housing partner organizations the financial resources they need to address various forms of discrimination that may occur as a result of rental and sales practices, as well as changing credit and real estate operations, related to the pandemic," she said.
Levels of funding are described by HUD as follows:
Level I—organizations with an average annual operating budget of less than $500,000 are eligible for up to $75,000.
Level II—organizations with an average annual operating budget of $500,000-$700,000 could be granted up to $125,000.
Level III—organizations with an average annual operating budget of greater than $700,000 may be awarded as much as $350,000.
Organizations that are interested in applying for funding should visit Grants.gov to obtain a copy of the specific Notice of Funding Opportunity, forms, instructions, and other application materials. Additional information can be found on HUD.gov.
The application deadline is August 18.