Department of Housing and Urban Development. The Department's Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity is responsible for enforcing the Fair Housing Act, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, handicap and familial status. With a view toward increasing the effectiveness of its enforcement activities, the Department is presently conducting a national housing discrimination study. Building upon previous studies conducted in 1977 and 1989, this is the most sophisticated and comprehensive study of its kind. This new study is a three-year project designed to examine housing practices in twenty urban and rural localities per year (up to sixty localities in total). Through the use of paired testers (people of different racial or ethnic backgrounds, matched for every other characteristic, such as income) HUD will examine and evaluate patterns and trends in housing sales and
rentals, and in mortgage lending. Congress appropriated $7.5 million for the study in 1999 and $6.0 million in 2000. The results of this study will enable the Department more effectively to focus its enforcement efforts, building upon an existing aggressive enforcement program.