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Fair Housing and Equal Credit Opportunity

Published on AidPage by IDILOGIC on Jun 24, 2005

Administered by:

US Federal Government Agency (see all agencies)
Department of Justice , Civil Rights Division
CFDA #: 16.103

Possible uses and use restrictions...

The Fair Housing Act, which is found in Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968, as amended by the Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988, is designed to ensure freedom from discrimination in the sale, rental and financing of housing, and other related activities. The Act provides two major avenues of enforcement by the Department. First, the Attorney General has independent authority to bring civil actions in Federal courts whenever he/she has reasonable cause to believe that any person or group of persons is engaged in a pattern or practice of discrimination or when he/she has reasonable cause to believe any group has been denied such rights in a case of general public importance. Under its pattern or practice authority, the Department may seek appropriate injunctive relief, actual and punitive damages for any persons injured by a the discrimination, and civil penalties of up to $55,000 against a defendant for the first violation and up to $110,000 for subsequent violations of the Act. Second, the Department also has authority to seek relief on behalf of individuals in certain circumstances, as follows. The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is required to investigate and conciliate any complaint of housing discrimination filed with that agency. If it cannot be conciliated, HUD is authorized to file an administrative charge if it determines there is reasonable cause to believe the Fair Housing Act has been violated. At that point, either party may elect to have such charge heard in Federal court, and if such election is made, the Department of Justice is required to bring suit in Federal court on behalf of the complainant and may seek actual and punitive damages in such an action. Aside from enforcement by the Federal government, private suits alleging illegal discrimination may be filed in the appropriate Federal or State court within two years of alleged discrimination. The ECOA, as amended, is designed to prohibit certain types of discrimination in all aspects of credit transactions. Persons who believe that they are victims of such discrimination may file complaints with one of the appropriate Federal regulatory agencies or may bring the information to the attention of the Attorney General. The Department of Justice is authorized to institute litigation in Federal court when a matter is referred to the Attorney General by an agency responsible for administrative enforcement of the Act or when he/she has reasonable cause to believe that one or more creditors are engaged in a pattern or practice of discrimination in violation of the Act. The Act gives the United States authority to seek actual and punitive damages for any persons aggrieved by the discrimination. In addition, an aggrieved person may institute suit in a Federal court pursuant to the ECOA. Title II of the 1964 Civil Rights Act is designed to prohibit discrimination in certain kinds of public accommodations. It gives the Attorney General authority to bring a legal action when he/she determines that there is reasonable cause to believe that any person or group is engaged in a pattern or practice of discrimination which violates the provisions of Title II. Remedies available in such cases are limited to injunctive relief and the Department does not have authority to seek monetary relief. Private individuals also may bring legal action under Title II. In addition, there are other civil rights laws which give such individuals authority to take legal action against public accommodations not covered by Title II. The Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act passed in September, 2000 prohibits State and local governments from using their authority to burden the exercise of religion, exclude religious assemblies from their jurisdictions, or discriminate against religious institutions. It gives the Attorney General the authority to seek injunctive or declaratory