In its annual fair housing trends study, the National Fair Housing Alliance (NFHA) reported that housing discrimination in the nation has spiked this past year for two key reasons: Internet advertising that violates fair housing laws and the worsening of the foreclosure crisis. In fact, private fair housing centers around the country have seen more cases of discrimination in mortgage lending than ever before, according to the report, “Fair Housing Enforcement: Time for a Change.”

Predatory lending—and the subsequent foreclosure crisis—has a direct impact on fair housing concerns for the multifamily industry. “As a result of the foreclosure crisis, hundreds of thousands, many in protected minority groups, are being forced back into the housing market to find alternative housing because their homes are being foreclosed upon,” says Don Kahl, executive director of the Equal Rights Center, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit civil rights organization. “As this pool of distressed buyers becomes distressed renters, those people who are willing to prey on those marginal groups increase as well.”

The trends report also notes that 93 private nonprofit fair housing organizations processed almost twice as many cases last year as HUD and the U.S. Department of Justice, and 107 state and local governments combined.

NFHA’s study offers a number of recommendations critical to instituting a strong fair housing enforcement and education mechanism. These include creating an independent fair housing enforcement agency; improving HUD’s complaint processing; and improving DOJ’s fair housing enforcement.

On File

A look at fair housing complaints, claims, and cases across multiple agencies and organizations.

2004 18,094 6,370 2,817 38 27,319
2005 16,789 7,034 2,227 42 26,092
2006 17,347 7,498 2,830 31 27,706
2007 16,834 7,705 2,449 35 27,023
2008 20,173 8,429 2,123 33 30,758
*Fair Housing Assistance Program

Source: National Fair Housing Alliance