The Fair Housing Act makes it unlawful to discriminate in housing transactions based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, disability, or family status. This year, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is especially focused on protecting the right of individuals to feel safe and secure in their homes, free from sexual harassment or unwanted sexual advances.
HUD's Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity (FHEO) will introduce the “Call HUD” campaign during the Department's Fair Housing Month opening program, which will take place at HUD headquarters, 451 7th Street, SW, Washington, DC, from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m., Thursday, April 4, inside the Brooke-Mondale Auditorium. During the program, two survivors of sexual harassment will share their stories about how they called HUD and got help. In addition, the program will highlight ABC Nightline’s recent story: Uncovering Rampant Sexual Harassment in Housing Systems, which features women who share their stories of abuse and the impact the experience had on their lives, as well as how HUD and the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) helped them to obtain the justice they deserved, and in one case, a $2.7 million settlement.
In April 2018, HUD and DOJ launched a nationwide joint initiative that combats sexual harassment in housing by increasing the public’s awareness of the issue and encouraging the reporting of harassment.
This year, throughout the month of April, the “Humans of HUD” photoblog will feature victims of sexual harassment in housing, highlighting the personal testimonies of survivors and those who helped them.
HUD will end the month with a closing ceremony on April 29 that will include a Fireside Chat between HUD and DOJ representatives involved with the initiative. The event will also include the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding, which establishes, among other things, sexual harassment training sessions for housing providers.
Every year, HUD and its fair housing partner organizations pursue enforcement actions, work to enhance the public’s awareness of their housing rights, and emphasize the importance of ending housing discrimination. Last year alone, HUD and its partner agencies received almost 8,000 complaints alleging discrimination based on one or more of the Fair Housing Act’s seven protected classes: race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status, and disability.
Persons who believe they have experienced discrimination may file a complaint by contacting Fairfax County’s Office of Human Rights and Equity Programs at 703.324.2953 (711 TTY) or by contacting HUD's Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity at (800) 669-9777 (voice) or (800) 927-9275 (TTY).