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Fair Housing Report Says Rising Foreclosures Contribute To Discrimination

The ""National Fair Housing Alliance (NFHA)"":http://www.nationalfairhousing.org , headquartered in Washington, D.C., has issued a report claiming that housing discrimination in the United States has spiked for two reasons: the worsening foreclosure crisis and Internet advertising that violates fair housing laws.
Shanna L. Smith, NFHA president and CEO, says that the growing number of foreclosures in communities across the nation, set in motion by suspect underwriting practices have created unequal housing opportunities for some residents. ""Fair housing advocates have been warning the federal government for a decade, to no avail, about the damage that abusive lending would bring,"" Smith said. ""For too long, HUD and the Justice Department have stood by while people and neighborhoods of color have been targeted for predatory loans and stripped of equity.""
NFHA's ""2009 Fair Housing Trends Report "":http://www.nationalfairhousing.org/Portals/33/2009%20Trends/2009%20Fair%20Housing%20Trends%20Report.pdf points out that 93 private, nonprofit fair housing organizations processed almost twice as many cases last year as HUD, the U.S. Department of Justice, and 107 state and local government agencies combined.
As foreclosures have mounted, NFHA says private fair housing centers around the country have seen more cases of discrimination in mortgage lending than ever before. These private organizations handled 1,500 fair lending complaints last year, compared to only 60 taken up by HUD, NFHA reported. The organization's findings show that HUD initiated only four official investigations into lending discrimination last year and the Justice Department processed only one such case.
Fair housing complaints handled by private groups in 2008 also jumped to 20,173, up 17 percent from the previous year. This figure amounts to 66 percent of all national complaints. Based on NFHA's study, in 2008, HUD handled only 2,123 fair housing complaints, state and local agencies only 8,429, and the Justice Department only 33 cases.
NFHA also attributes the increase in complaints to a large number of discriminatory housing ads on the Internet. NFHA alone filed more than 350 complaints based on Internet advertising discrimination with HUD last year, yet the organization says HUD refuses to use its subpoena power to find the individuals posting discriminatory ads. NFHA says the majority of the ads discriminate against families with children.
Smith explained, ""Ads that we have seen like, 'Indoor pets ok, no kids,' are a clear violation of federal law and are simply unacceptable. As more and more people turn to the Internet for information, we anticipate hundreds more complaints from around the country. HUD needs to step up to the plate.""
Founded in 1988, the National Fair Housing Alliance is a consortium of more than 220 private nonprofit fair housing organizations, state and local civil rights agencies, and individuals from across the country, working to provide equal access to mortgage loans, houses, apartments, and insurance policies for all residents, as prescribed under the federal Fair Housing Act. This law prohibits housing discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status, and disability. It also covers all housing transactions and services, including advertising, rentals, sales, lending, and insurance, as well as harassment.

About Author: Carrie Bay

Carrie Bay is a freelance writer for DS News and its sister publication MReport. She served as online editor for DSNews.com from 2008 through 2011. Prior to joining DS News and the Five Star organization, she managed public relations, marketing, and media relations initiatives for several B2B companies in the financial services, technology, and telecommunications industries. She also wrote for retail and nonprofit organizations upon graduating from Texas A&M University with degrees in journalism and English.
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