Both federal and state laws guarantee equal rights to housing, as
mandated by Article 5(e)(iii), and they prohibit discriminatory
practices in the sale and rental of housing as well as in the mortgage
lending and insurance markets related to housing. The Departments of
Justice and Housing and Urban Development have vigorously prosecuted
violations of the federal civil rights statutes in an effort to reduce
Housing Act, originally enacted as Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of
1968 and amended by the Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988 (42 U.S.C.
sec. 3601-19) prohibits discrimination on the grounds of race, color,
religion, or national origin in the sale or rental of housing, as well
as in other real estate related transactions (i.e., lending, insurance,
and appraisal practices), with some limited exceptions. The Act also
includes a criminal provision, 42 U.S.C. sec. 3631, which, as discussed
in more detail above, is used to prosecute cross-burnings and other
racially-motivated threats and violence directed at people in their
Housing Act applies not only to actions by direct providers such as
landlords and real estate companies, but also to actions by
municipalities, banks, insurance companies, and other entities whose
discriminatory practices make housing unavailable to persons because of
their race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability, or
familial status. In addition, the Equal Credit Opportunity Act, 15 U.S.C.
sec. 1691, prohibits creditors from discriminating against any applicant
for credit on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex
or marital status, or age. This extends to mortgage applications, and
therefore protects minority applicants from being discriminated against
in the purchase of homes. This statute is enforced through litigation
initiated by private parties and by the Federal government.
of Justice actively enforces laws against discrimination in housing.
Most recently, in 1999, the Justice Department resolved a case, United
States v. Vernon, against an apartment complex for refusing to rent
apartments in Albuquerque, New Mexico to Blacks. The case was resolved
by a consent decree that required the owner to pay monetary damages to
victims of the discrimination. Similar settlements were reached in cases
brought against landlords in Richmond, Virginia and Jackson,
States v. Big D Enterprises, the Department successfully tried a
case against an Arkansas landlord who discriminated against African
American apartment-seekers. The court's decision awarding compensatory
and punitive damages was affirmed on appeal.
States v. Boston Housing Authority, the Department alleged that the
landlord was responsible for failing to respond to and take corrective
actions to protect Black and Hispanic families who were who were
subjected to racial and ethnic harassment from other tenants, including
racial and ethnic epithets, threats, graffiti, vandalism, and assaults.
The case was settled with an agreement for the landlord to pay damages
to the victims and institute corrective policies and procedures to
prevent future problems.
Also, in a case
alleging discrimination in lending, the Department of Justice brought an
enforcement action against a bank in Jackson, Mississippi alleging race
discrimination. The complaint alleged that the bank, Deposit Guaranty,
used different underwriting criteria for Black applicants than for White
applicants. As a result, Black applicants for credit were three times
more likely to be rejected than similarly situated White applicants. The
case was resolved and the bank was required to pay $3 million in
monetary damages and to institute uniform and centralized policies and
procedures. Enforcement actions have been brought on behalf of Blacks,
Native Americans, Hispanics and others throughout the United States.
2000, the Department of Justice, along with the Federal Trade Commission
and HUD, filed and settled a suit in United States v. Delta Funding
Corporation, alleging violations of fair housing, fair lending, and
consumer protection laws in making its loans. This lawsuit marks the
first such combined action was taken by the federal agencies. The
complaint alleged that Delta, which made loans with the assistance of
mortgage brokers, violated the Fair Housing and Equal Credit Opportunity
Acts by granting home mortgage loans with higher broker fees to African
American females than those provided to white males, that it violated
the Real Estate Settlement Practices Act by allowing unreasonable broker
fees, and that it violated the Home Ownership and Equity Protection Act
by engaging in asset-based lending. The settlement provides for
injunctive and monetary relief.