Charlestien Harris

Charlestien Harris is a HUD Certified Housing Counselor employed by Southern Bancorp. Harris writes to distribute factual information about financial topics of interest to banking markets and surrounding local communities. You can find these articles at https://banksouthern.com/category/blog/financial-fitness/. If you have any questions email at charlestien.harris@southernpartners.org.

The Fair Housing Act was passed on April 11, 1968 and was designed to protect Americans from discrimination in selling or buying houses.

The Act prohibits discrimination based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex (including gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, and sexual harassment), familial status, and disability. But before it can protect Americans, we need to be able to identify what housing discrimination looks like and know how to report it.

What is housing discrimination? Housing discrimination is defined as anyone involved in the process of renting, selling, or buying a property treating the person doing the buying, renting, or selling differently because they meet certain characteristics of a protected class.

How do I recognize housing discrimination? Some examples of housing discrimination include charging higher fees to potential renters with children and refusing to show immigrant applicants homes in certain areas. It could also mean being offered a lower appraisal price on a house because of race or offering to buy a home for less because of the race of the person selling the home.

How do I file a federal complaint? If you feel you’ve been a victim of housing discrimination, the first step is to locate your local or state Fair Housing Equal Opportunity Office. You can locate your nearest FHEO at https://www.hud.gov/program_offices/fair_housing_equal_opp/contact_fheo. Once there, you should complete and file an administrative complaint with the office.

By law, the FHEO is required to investigate a claim within 100 days of a complaint being filed. You can also call the Housing Discrimination Hotline at (800) 669-9777.

The website to find filing information is https://www.hud.gov/program_offices/fair_housing_equal_opp/online-complaint. There, you’ll have the option to download and print a form and mail it to the nearest regional office or file a complaint online. The complaint form is available in English, Spanish, and several other languages.

Keep in mind that retaliation for filing a complaint is illegal, so document any action that you feel might be a response to your complaint. The FHEO also enforces anti-discrimination laws with respect to mortgage lending and appraisals.

If you believe your rights may have been violated, you can submit a complaint by following the steps mentioned above. Due to the strict limitations of when a complaint can be filed with HUD after an alleged violation, you should submit a complaint as soon as possible.

Information you should provide when submitting a complaint:

• Your name and address

• The name and address of the person(s) or organization your complaint is against

• The address or other identification of the housing or program involved

• A brief description of the event(s) that caused you to believe your rights were violated

• The date(s) of the alleged violation

Though the Fair Housing Act was passed, discrimination in housing remains common in many communities. However, when it comes to suspected housing discrimination there are processes and procedures to fight back. It requires patience, gathering evidence and documentation, and good legal advice, but it can be done!

And a HUD Certified Housing Counselor can assist you with the process or direct you to those resources needed to file a formal complaint.

For more information on this and other financial topics please contact me at

Charlestien.harris@southernpartners.org or call me at 662-624-5776.

Until next week---Stay financially fit!

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