4/30/2018 in News & Media, NFHA News, Press Releases

New Report Analyzes 50 Years of the Fair Housing Act and Calls for Stronger Enforcement of Fair Housing Laws

April 30, 2018
Contact:  Jessica Aiwuyor, 202-898-1661, jaiwuyor@nationalfairhousing.org


New Report Analyzes 50 Years of the Fair Housing Act and Calls for Stronger Enforcement of Fair Housing Laws

Washington, DC – Today, the National Fair Housing Alliance (NFHA) released its 2018 Fair Housing Trends Report: Making Every Neighborhood a Place of Opportunity. This year’s report comes at a historic juncture, as the Fair Housing Act marked its 50th anniversary on April 11. On this occasion, housing rights advocates, elected officials, grassroots leaders, lawyers, academics, and others are reflecting on our nation’s progress toward fair housing over the last 50 years, as well as assessing the obstacles that have prevented fair housing from being fully realized.

The report provides insights into current fair housing needs that require more attention from housing advocates, housing providers, industry, and the federal government.  It also highlights recent obstacles to fair housing, such as Facebook’s enabling of discriminatory ads by housing providers and HUD’s suspension of implementation of the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing Rule, intended to address the ongoing historical and systemic segregation that exists in virtually all communities in the United States. The 2018 report provides an overview of the state of fair housing in the United States and what we must consider in order to advance fair housing rights over the next 50 years.


View the full 2018 Trends Report here.


Report highlights:

  • More than half a million housing discrimination complaints have been processed since 1996, when NFHA first began collecting complaint data.
  • Since 1991, more than 70,000 units of multi-family housing have been made accessible to persons with disabilities through litigation brought primarily by DOJ and private, nonprofit fair housing organizations.
  • Since 1988, dozens of cases alleging redlining and discrimination by mortgage lenders have resulted in close to $1 billion in compensation to victims of mortgage lending discrimination and for investment in communities.
  • There were 28,843 complaints of housing discrimination in 2017.
  • The three most common types of complaints in 2017 were based on disability (57 percent), race (19 percent), and family status (9 percent).
  • The biggest obstacle to fair housing rights is the federal government’s failure to enforce the law vigorously.

The 28,843 reported housing discrimination complaints in 2017 represent a slight increase from complaints reported in 2016. The majority of these complaints, 71.3 percent, were handled by private, nonprofit fair housing organizations, most of which are members of NFHA. In comparison, HUD, which Congress has tasked with ensuring effective enforcement of the Fair Housing Act, processed 1,311 complaints, less than five percent of the total. State and local governmental Fair Housing Assistance Program (FHAP) agencies processed 6,896 complaints and DOJ brought 41 cases. Even though the overall number of complaints has risen, HUD and FHAP agencies processed fewer complaints in 2017 than in 2016.

Lisa Rice, President and CEO of NFHA, stated, “This is a pivotal year for fair housing. As the 2018 Trends Report shows, we must put an end to the many institutionalized barriers that prevent too many families in this country from fair access to housing. We must commit to making every neighborhood a place of opportunity for its residents and to making all communities open to all people, regardless of race, national origin, disability, or other protected status. It has been 50 years, and the Fair Housing Act still has not been fully implemented. We cannot build a thriving society as long as our nation is plagued by discrimination, segregation, and severe economic inequality.”

The Fair Housing Act has the potential to be one of the most powerful laws in the country, but its effectiveness has been stymied by entrenched policies and practices that perpetuate discrimination and segregation; ineffective enforcement by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and Department of Justice (DOJ); and inadequate allocation of resources to public and private fair housing programs at all levels. NFHA’s report documents that much has been achieved under the act but that significant hurdles remain, even while new obstacles emerge, such as industry use of new technologies that present barriers to fair housing, rampant gentrification, and the ramifications of rebuilding after disasters. As we look ahead to the next 50 years, NFHA’s 2018 Trends Report identifies key opportunities for the successful implementation of the Fair Housing Act, to help ensure that all neighborhoods are places of opportunity and are open to all.

The 2018 Fair Housing Trends Report is the latest in a series of annual reports in which NFHA compiles and analyzes housing discrimination data and trends throughout the nation to provide a comprehensive understanding of the state of fair housing.


Founded in 1988, NFHA is a consortium of more than 220 private, nonprofit fair housing organizations, state and local civil rights agencies, and individuals from throughout the United States.  Headquartered in Washington, D.C., NFHA works to eliminate housing discrimination and ensure equal housing opportunity for all people through leadership, education, outreach, membership services, public policy initiatives, community development, advocacy, and enforcement.