Highest Number of Housing Discrimination Complaints to Date Nationally

 Latest findings underscore the need for more robust funding for local fair housing enforcement organizations to create sustainability for non-profit private agencies obtaining relief for victims of housing discrimination.

Washington, D.C. —The National Fair Housing Alliance (NFHA) — of which Long Island Housing Services, Inc. (LIHS) is a member — released data showing that the number of housing discrimination complaints rose to more than 33,000 nationwide last year, the highest on record. In a troubling turn, domestic violence related complaints saw a noticeable increase along with complaints based on source of income, according to new data published in the latest Fair Housing Trends Report.

Lisa Rice speaking at LIHS' Fair Housing Act 50th anniversary gala
Lisa Rice speaking at LIHS’ Fair Housing Act 50th anniversary gala

There were 33,007 fair housing complaints received last year by private non-profit fair housing organizations (FHOs) such as Long Island Housing Services, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Fair Housing Assistance Program (FHAP) agencies and the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), a 5.74 percent jump compared to 2021 when 31,216 complaints were filed. This represents the highest number of complaints ever reported in a single year.

These new findings show that housing discrimination is still affecting many people and communities. But even the unprecedented number of complaints don’t account for the many incidents of housing discrimination that fail to get reported at all due to fear of retaliation or eviction. In other cases, incidents of housing discrimination go undetected or unreported because they are difficult to identify or document.

“This year commemorates 55 years since the landmark Fair Housing Act became law. We have come a long way since then, but the findings of our latest Fair Housing Trends Report indicate that we still have a long way to go in dismantling unfair systems that are driving racial wealth and homeownership gaps, economic inequality, and structural barriers for people of color, people with disabilities, women, immigrants, certain religious groups, and LGBTQ+ individuals.” said Lisa Rice, President and CEO of NFHA. “It is especially concerning that the numbers are trending upward for discrimination complaints involving victims of domestic violence, who are often already burdened with navigating the legal system. Now, these women, men, and children, through no fault of their own, have to bear the consequences of an abuser impacting their ability to secure housing or remain housed.”

“In New York State, there were 1,904 fair housing complaints received last year,” said Ian Wilder, Executive Director of Long Island Housing Services. “Of those 1,225 fair housing complaints (64% of the statewide total) were received from Long Island Housing Services and the 5 other Fair Housing Organizations (FHOs) that span the state. Similar to other FHOs across New York, we continue to see the largest numbers of complaints for discrimination based on Race, Disability, and Source of Income.  We are grateful to New York State for joining other states in funding the FHOs to enforce fair housing laws.  And we hope to continue to secure federal funding for this work.  Our HUD Private Enforcement Initiative grant ends August 31, 2023, and we are awaiting the Notice of Funding Opportunity to apply for the next grant. We join NFHA in calling on federal, state, and local governments to prioritize increasing funds to support FHOs like Long Island Housing Services.

NFHA has produced the Fair Housing Trends Report annually since the mid-1990s as part of its mission to expand access to fair housing and credit opportunities and ensure that all neighborhoods are well-resourced, resilient places of opportunity in which people can thrive. This year, NFHA also developed a new interactive web-based feature to help the public better visualize the Fair Housing Trends Report data. That feature can be accessed here.

The latest report critically underscores the need for federal, state, and local governments to prioritize increasing funds to support the agencies on the frontlines processing and investigating fair housing complaints and working to dismantle barriers and systems that impede progress for all people.

“Given the spike in reported housing complaints during the nation’s fair and affordable housing crisis, we must redouble our efforts to secure adequate resources for the organizations and agencies — on the local, state, and federal level — working to advance fair housing,” Rice added.

FHOs processed 73.94 percent of complaints nationally, compared to 5.80 percent by HUD, 20.15 percent by FHAP agencies, and 0.11 percent by the DOJ. As the numbers show, private fair housing organizations are at the forefront of fair housing enforcement. They are in dire need of more funding and resources to continue their important work of investigating complaints, collecting data, providing fair housing counseling and education to consumers, and helping clients file complaints with appropriate authorities.

As in previous years, the latest findings show that discrimination based on disability accounted for the majority (53.26 percent) of complaints nationally filed with FHOs, HUD, and FHAP agencies. In New York, disability discrimination also accounts for the largest number of complaints: 700 out of 1904 (37%).

Nationally, there were 2,490 complaints based on sex, the highest number recorded since NFHA began collecting such data in 2005. There was also a significant increase of 39.8 percent in complaints regarding source of income last year compared to the year before. And there was a spike in domestic violence complaints, with 289 reported domestic violence complaints last year, compared to 172 in 2021.

This report includes submissions from 86 NFHA member organizations, which are all either private non-profit fair housing organizations or fair housing programs of legal aid agencies. HUD’s 10 regional HUD offices and 77 state and local government agencies that participate in HUD’s FHAP program also provided data. In addition, the report contains information gathered from the DOJ.

Click  here to read the full report. People who believe that they have experienced housing discrimination in Nassau or Suffolk Counties can contact Long Island Housing Services, Inc. at 631-567-5111 ext. 375. Hablamos Español 631-567-5111 Ext. 378 or info@lifairhousing.org

# # #

The National Fair Housing Alliance (NFHA) is the country’s only national civil rights organization dedicated solely to eliminating all forms of housing and lending discrimination and ensuring equal opportunities for all people. As the trade association for over 170 fair housing and justice-centered organizations and individuals throughout the U.S. and its territories, NFHA works to dismantle longstanding barriers to equity and build diverse, inclusive, well-resourced communities.

Founded in 1969, Long Island Housing Services’ mission is the elimination of unlawful discrimination and promotion of decent and affordable housing through advocacy and education. LIHS is a private, nonprofit HUD-qualified Fair Housing Enforcement Organization and a federally certified, approved Housing Counseling agency. (www.LIFairHousing.org) Long Island Housing Services has been recognized for the last 3 years by City & State magazine as one of the Long Island Power 100.