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HUD only processes fraction of discrimination complaints

According to the National Fair Housing Alliance, or NFHA, there were 1,311 housing discrimination complaints processed in 2017. That was about 5 percent of the 28,843 complaints received that year by the Department of Housing and Urban Development, or HUD. State and local agencies that were funded by HUD processed another 6,896 during that same year.

During that time period, 71 percent of complaints made were processed by private or non-profit groups. The NFHA report points out that the number of complaints processed went down despite the number of complaints increasing between 2016 and 2017. The most common types of complaints included those related to race and disability. The CEO of the NFHA said that the Fair Housing Act has not yet been fully enforced and that allowing racism and discrimination to thrive is holding society back.

As a general rule, housing must be made available to those who can afford it. In some cases, financial assistance may be available to help tenants pay their rent or a buyer to pay a mortgage. However, landlords and homeowners generally cannot discriminate against a person simply because he or she is disabled or has children. A person's national origin, gender or religious views generally cannot be used to deny housing either.

If a person does have a disability, a landlord may have to take reasonable steps to accommodate that person's needs. This could include putting in a ramp or allowing a service animal to help that individual. Those who believe that they are the victims of housing discrimination may benefit from consulting with an attorney. Doing so may help individuals get a better sense of what their rights are and their options to preserve them. An attorney may represent an individual during informal talks or a trial.

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