The Federal Government Has Awarded Over $40 Million in Grants to Plaintiffs' Groups to Increase Pursuit of Housing Discrimination
In March 2011, the federal government announced that it has awarded $40.8 million as part of its Fair Housing Initiatives Program (FHIP) to 108 fair housing organizations and nonprofit agencies in 36 states and the District of Columbia.
The stated intention for the funding is that the grants are to be used to:
- investigate allegations of housing discrimination
- educate the public and the housing industry about rights and responsibilities under the Fair Housing Act
- promote equal housing opportunities
Organizations investigating housing discrimination – through testing and other means – were allocated $28 million of the $40.8 million. These organizations are also expected to bring private actions to enforce the Fair Housing Act, along with state and local laws that are patterned after the Act. This year’s award represents an additional $13.2 million awarded over last year’s grants – a 48 percent increase.
In making its announcement, the government emphasized that the grants are designed to “enable community groups all over the nation to enforce the Fair Housing Act, make the public more aware of their fair housing rights and ensure that housing providers understand their responsibilities under the law.”
Given the increase in funding in this area, additional Fair Housing Act testing and litigation are likely to continue.
Although the Fair Housing Act permits fair housing organizations and nonprofit groups to bring private enforcement actions against individuals or entities for claimed discriminatory housing practices, those organizations or groups must nevertheless be able to meet the constitutional requirements for standing to bring those actions.
Holland & Knight lawyers have extensive experience in defending and settling these types of suits as well as providing comprehensive guidance in all Fair Housing Act matters.