According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (“HUD’s”) annual report, 10,552 fair housing discrimination complaints were filed in fiscal year 2008. That is an all time record. Some other notes from HUD’s report include:
- Allegations based on disability remain the most common basis for a complaint – in fiscal 2008, 4,675 disability complaints (or 44 percent of the total) were filed.
- Allegations based on race were the second most frequent basis for a complaint – 3,669 race complaints (or 35 percent of the total) were filed.
- Interestingly, the approximate percentage of complaints filed under each of the seven characteristics protected under federal fair housing law has remained relatively stable during the past four fiscal years.
- After disability and race, familial status (1,690 complaints or 16 percent of the total) and national origin (1,364 complaints or 13 percent of the total) were the most common bases of complaints.
- Retaliation, religion, and color were the least common bases of complaints filed with fair housing agencies in the past four fiscal years. In fiscal 2008, retaliation was cited as a basis for 575 complaints (or 5 percent of the total). Religion was alleged as a basis for 339 complaints (or 3 percent of the total). Color was cited as a basis for 262 complaints (or 2 percent of the total).
- Also, the number of complaints based on “failure to make a reasonable accommodation” jumped 5 percent during the last four years. In fiscal 2008, “failure to make a reasonable accommodation” was alleged in 2,401 complaints, or 23 percent of the overall total—the third most common issue.
These figures continue to show us that management must remain vigilant. We must always train our employees to know and follow the law. We must appropriately document our resident and community files. I see no meaningful reduction in the number of fair housing complaints in 2009. Significantly, always remember that while management is alleged to have done something wrong when a complaint gets filed, it is up to us to prove our innocence in these cases. Doing so requires good education and documentation. One last point: while the number of retaliation cases is not statistically large, agencies and investigators always take retaliation cases seriously and we must clearly demonstrate that management did not retaliate against anyone because he or she filed a fair housing complaint.
Just A Thought.