Most likely lost in the COVID-19 news obviously dominating the world right now, last week the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced that it awarded $40 million to various fair housing organizations across the nation to test compliance with the federal Fair Housing Act (FHA) and its state law counterparts. The money was provided through HUD’s Fair Housing Initiatives Program (FHIP) and the Fair Housing Assistance Program (FHAP) to help people who believe they have been victims of housing discrimination as well as to educate the public and housing providers on our fair housing laws.
In the real world, this money helps fund fair housing tester programs which probe professional apartment management (via in person, telephone, and online tests) to determine if we are in compliance with the FHA. And if a fair housing tester group settles a case, they always seek fees claiming “frustration of mission and purpose” such that they should be able to recover the costs of the tests. Yes, that means they are paid twice. Once by the federal government grant and once by the apartment owner/management company resolving the case.
Even during a pandemic, remember the fair housing laws are still on the books. We cannot get lazy. These grants mean management must remain vigilant and train our employees (particularly new hires and those new to the leasing arena) to continue to follow the fair housing laws. The best defense to a FHA complaint, of course, is to never have it filed. Trust me on that.
Just A Thought.