The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development on Tuesday announced it is awarding $1.5 million in Partnership and Special Enforcement Effort funds to HUD Fair Housing Assistance Program (FHAP) agencies to support COVID-19 education activities. The funds are being provided through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES) of 2020, which President Donald Trump signed into law to provide federal agencies with the resources needed to combat COVID-19.
“The Fair Housing Act embodies the spirit of this great nation where everyone is entitled to equal opportunity and respect,” Secretary Ben Carson said. “As we battle this invisible enemy, we need to be attentive to the heightened protections and needs of family, friends and neighbors who are older, have disabilities, or pre-existing medical conditions. We also need to honor and support, not evict out of fear, the medical professionals and caregivers who selflessly go to the front line to serve and heal. We must be creative and compassionate to keep each other safely sheltered, healthy and prepared. Right now, in the spirit of fair housing, we need to be the best neighbors we can be for one another.”
“Addressing potential fair housing issues related to COVID-19 will require resources that extend beyond the federal government,” said Anna María Farías, HUD’s assistant secretary for fair housing and equal opportunity. “FHAP agencies not only have expertise in conducting a range of fair housing enforcement activities, they are especially attuned to how particular issues are affecting their communities.”
Partnership funds allow FHAP agencies to utilize the services of individuals and/or public, private, for-profit, or not-for-profit organizations that have expertise in enforcing federal, state and local fair housing laws. Similarly, special enforcement effort funds enhance the fair housing enforcement activities of FHAP agencies.
“New York and New Jersey are the epicenters of COVID-19 in the entire nation. Both states have extremely diverse populations already vulnerable to discrimination in housing,” said Lynne Patton, HUD regional administrator for New York and New Jersey. “It’s imperative that local fair housing organizations in our region apply and take advantage of this additional funding provided by HUD to eliminate any potential victimization of residents during this difficult time.”
Examples of fundable activities include: Partnering with grassroots, faith-based or other community-based organizations to conduct COVID-19-related education and outreach to people of different backgrounds on how to live together peacefully in the same housing complex, neighborhood or community; or procurement and/or development of up-to-date or advanced technology to do COVID-19 related education and outreach using online platforms and social media.
HUD will issue detailed instructions to agencies regarding the availability of funds and process for application. FHAP agencies are state and local agencies that enforce state and local laws that are substantially equivalent to the federal Fair Housing Act. Currently, there are approximately 75 FHAP agencies operating throughout the nation.
Persons who believe they have experienced housing discrimination may file a complaint of discrimination by contacting HUD's Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity at 800-669-9777 or visiting “How to File a Complaint” on HUD’s website. Materials and assistance are available for persons with limited English proficiency. Individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing may contact the department using the federal relay service at 800-877-8339.