If professional apartment management thought that fair housing enforcement would stop because of a global pandemic, well – think again. Last week, the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD) announced over $40 million in grants to local fair housing advocacy groups from coast to coast. These individual grants, running in the hundreds of thousands of dollars each, are designed to assist individuals who believe they have been victims of housing discrimination as well as to provide funding for fair housing testers and investigations. The money comes from HUD’s Fair Housing Initiatives Program (FHIP) and is distributed to eligible fair housing advocacy groups who meet criteria established by the federal government.
HUD views these local fair housing groups as partners who test (and essentially investigate) claims of housing discrimination. And as a part of their joint efforts, HUD provides taxpayer dollars to fund the process. To be sure, many of these groups also do fair housing training and education.
My point in highlighting these grants is to ensure we continue to train our leasing office staff to comply with the federal Fair Housing Act and its state (and/or city or county) counterparts. It is up to us to know the protected classes in each jurisdiction where we manage properties and to make clear our front office employees appropriately handle reasonable accommodation and/or reasonable modification requests. In my experience, the best way to avoid having to deal with a lawyer like me is to educate your team members to engage with prospects, applicants, and residents to address concerns before something hits my desk.
Just A Thought.