7/29/2021 in News & Media, NFHA News, Press Releases

Annual Fair Housing Report Shows Increase in Housing Harassment


July 29, 2021

Media Contact: Izzy Woodruff | 202-898-1661 | IWoodruff@nationalfairhousing.org

Annual Fair Housing Report Shows Increase in Housing Harassment 

The report reveals a troubling rise of harassment claims against marginalized groups, with a notable upsurge against AAPI communities.

Washington, D.C. 一Today, the National Fair Housing Alliance (NFHA) released its annual trends report documenting complaints of housing discrimination filed last year at the local, state, and national levels. The report shows that, while the overall number of housing discrimination claims remained consistent in 2020, Asian American and Pacific Islander communities reported a rise in harassment. Claims of sexual harassment also rose among tenants who were unable to pay their rent due to job loss or unemployment. 

The report is divided into two sections: one outlines detailed data around fair housing complaints, with information broken down by type of agency, protected class, and type of transaction. Detailed information is also provided about government complaint data, including information about charged or caused cases, case conciliations and closures, aged cases, and more. This section also highlights the important work of the Department of Justice and features some of its cases that were settled in FY2020. Section two provides a sample of important legal victories in many housing discrimination cases in 2020. These cases involved racial steering between apartment complexes, source of income discrimination, disability discrimination in mortgage lending, challenges to municipal nuisance ordinances that were used to discriminate against people of color, a challenge to residency preferences, discrimination in residential appraisals, and discrimination against a same-sex couple, among others.

“In 2020, we were asked to stay home to keep each other safe. But for too many Americans, home was still not safe enough. People of color and women still face much higher levels of harassment and discrimination at home and in the housing market,” said Lisa Rice, President and CEO of the National Fair Housing Alliance. “Governments at the local, state, and federal levels moved swiftly to enact eviction moratoriums and other emergency housing protections during the pandemic. We need to move with that same urgency to address housing discrimination.”

Some of the highlights from the report include:

  • There has been a decline in referrals of potential fair lending pattern and practice violations by federal banking regulators to the Department of Justice, dropping from 47 in 2010 to just 12 in 2020.
  • The Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity at HUD had three Secretary-initiated complaints opened or completed in FY20, down from five in 2019 and 33 in 2015, reflecting a significant reduction in Secretary-initiated complaints during the Trump administration.
  • In 2020, 1,071 complaints of harassment were reported, a significant increase from the 761 complaints reported in 2019 and the highest number of harassment complaints reported since NFHA began collecting detailed harassment data in 2012. 
  • Private fair housing organizations continue to process almost three times the number of complaints (73.45 percent) processed by state, local, and federal government agencies combined. This reinforces the need for increased funding of the Fair Housing Initiatives Program, which provides the majority of funding for these important organizations doing fair housing work at the grass-roots level.
  • Complaints alleging discrimination because of disability continue to account for the largest number of complaints, at 54.56 percent. Discrimination based on disability is usually obvious, making it easier to detect and more practical to file a complaint.
  • Race-based complaints constituted 16.79 percent of complaints, and familial status discrimination accounted for 7.93 percent of complaints.

The Fair Housing Initiatives Program, funded by the Department of Housing and Urban Development, provides the majority of funding for nonprofit fair housing organizations.

NFHA’s 2020 Fair Housing Trends Report contains additional information about the year 2020, especially as it relates to the fair housing implications of the COVID-19 pandemic, including: the disparate impact of COVID-19 on people and communities of color; harassment against the AAPI community; increased sexual harassment of tenants; and the looming eviction and foreclosure crisis that will adversely affect people of color, who were disproportionately affected by COVID-19 and job loss. That report is available with all of NFHA’s trends reports at https://nationalfairhousing.org/reports-research/.

Following the release of this report, NFHA plans to produce single-issue white papers or reports on other topics with recommendations for addressing the concerns identified in those reports.


The National Fair Housing Alliance (NFHA) is the country’s only national civil rights organization dedicated solely to eliminating all forms of housing and lending discrimination and ensuring equal opportunities for all people. Through its homeownership, credit access, tech equity, education, member services, public policy, community development, and enforcement initiatives, NFHA works to dismantle longstanding barriers to equity and build diverse, inclusive, well-resourced communities.