What is Housing Discrimination and How Can I Report It?

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La discriminacion en la vivienda

If you’ve ever been told you might be more “comfortable” in another neighborhood; been pressured by a landlord to pay rent with sexual favors; or told to get rid of an animal, even though they’re an assistance animal, you may have experienced housing discrimination. And these are just a few examples. According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), any discrimination in renting or buying a home, getting a mortgage or home insurance, seeking housing assistance, or engaging in other housing-related activities based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex (including sexual orientation and gender identity), familial status, and disability is prohibited under the federal Fair Housing Act. Yet, there are over four million incidents of housing discrimination every year, and most go unreported. Watch the video below to learn more about this form of discrimination and read about how to address it.

Open Doors PSA

Report housing discrimination to your local private fair housing center

If you think housing discrimination has occurred, report it to your local fair housing center. These private, non-profit organizations may review the experience with you to assess if discrimination occurred, gather supporting evidence, and help you file a complaint with HUD or a state/local government fair housing agency. They provide services free of charge.

Fair housing centers don’t have the authority to adjudicate matters of law, but they are staunch advocates for victims of discrimination. Many fair housing centers will advocate on behalf of victims of discrimination through the federal, state, or local complaint process; may be able to refer you to an attorney; and may offer other services, such as assisting with reasonable accommodation requests. 

Click here to find your local fair housing center

If there is no private fair housing organization in your area, submit a preliminary intake form to NFHA and we will review the information and contact you. Click here to access the form.

Even if you don’t want to pursue your rights, reporting discrimination to your local private fair housing center or NFHA can help identify and address discriminatory barriers to housing in your community. 

Submit a housing discrimination complaint to HUD or a state/local government fair housing agency

If you experienced discrimination, you may file a discrimination complaint directly with HUD or your state/local government fair housing agency. You may file a complaint by yourself or with the help of an advocate, like a private fair housing center or an attorney. After you submit your information, these entities will conduct an intake interview, investigate, and determine if unlawful housing discrimination likely occurred. If you file a complaint with HUD, in some instances the complaint may be transferred to a state/local government fair housing agency for intake and investigation. Unlike private fair housing centers, HUD and state/local fair housing agencies do not advocate on your behalf in the complaint process. 

Click here to access HUD’s housing discrimination complaint page.

Click here to find a list of state/local government fair housing agencies.

What if I need assistance with other housing related matters?

A good place to start is with your local fair housing center. Many have additional programs that may provide housing counseling or landlord/tenant services. They are also connected with local community advocates and can refer you to the appropriate resources. If you are at risk of foreclosure or eviction, you may also contact a HUD-approved counseling agency in your area. Click here to search for HUD-approved counseling agencies.