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Latino Daily News

Tuesday April 12, 2011

HUD to Focus on Discrimination Against Immigrants and Other Foreign Born

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has announced that it will launch an effort to better address national origin based housing discrimination during Fair Housing Month in April.

HUD will initiate a national media campaign and a series of community discussions on topics ranging from rental practices to mortgage lending. HUD’s first Immigrant Housing Conference, which will educate the public and housing providers about their fair housing rights and responsibilities, will be conducted in Omaha, Nebraska, April 14.

“The new Census data demonstrate that newcomers are settling not only in traditional gateway states. They reside in communities across the Midwest and South. Through this education campaign, HUD will work with communities to prevent housing discrimination and promote immigrant integration into the broader society,” said John Trasviña, HUD Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity.

The Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in rental, sales or home lending transactions based on a person’s national origin. This includes discrimination based on a person’s ancestry, country of birth outside the United States, and the language they speak. National origin discrimination often involves immigrants or non-English speaking individuals, but can also involve native-born U. S. citizens based on their family ancestry. This type of discrimination may also occur in conjunction with the other protections of the Fair Housing Act against race, color, religion, gender, disability, and family status discrimination.

One part of HUD’s “Live Free” national media campaign is a print advertisement featuring a Latino worker looking into the horizon, with a caption in Spanish reading: “You have the right to live where you choose. Report housing discrimination.”

HUD also recently awarded nearly $41 million to 108 fair housing organizations and non-profit agencies across the country to educate the public and combat housing and lending discrimination. Many of the groups will use the grants to address discrimination against immigrants, Latinos, non-native English speakers and minority communities. See this selected list of grantees and their work.

Some examples of how the grants will be used to combat national origin discrimination include:

The Fair Housing Council of Riverside County, California, will test for discrimination in the sale and rental of housing units in the area of national origin;

The Equal Rights Center in Washington, DC, will investigate 240 new complaints of housing discrimination alleging violation of federal fair housing laws with an emphasis on national origin;

The Idaho Legal Aid Services will broadcast public service announcements in Spanish about FHA lending information; and

Prairie State Legal Services in Rockford, Illinois, will focus on educational outreach to Spanish-speaking residents, a group recognized statewide as at-risk.