Sending Office: Honorable Gwen Moore
Sent By:
Chris.Goldson@mail.house.gov

        Request for Cosponsor(s)

Deadline:  COB, Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Dear Colleague,

Please join me in sending a letter urging the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to ensure that FY 2019 funding provided by Congress  continues to be used to support training to help identify housing discrimination through the Test Coordinator
Training and Technical Assistance  program.   Unfortunately, there is concern that HUD may eliminate this crucial program that helps to provide real world testing to ensure landlords are complying with the Fair Housing Act.

The Fair Housing Act was enacted to advance equal opportunity in housing and ensure that Americans are not discriminated against in housing. Despite its passage, some estimate that millions of violations of anti-discrimination housing laws still occur each
year.  While HUD has primary responsibility for enforcing, through the Fair Housing Initiative Program (FHIP), it supports private organizations that provide vital enforcement services, including fair housing testing programs that use individuals posing as
renters, purchasers, or borrowers in order to ascertain if a similarly situated member of a protected class (based, e.g., on race, national origin, or gender) have been discriminated against. As noted by the Department of Justice, “testing can be a valuable
tool to investigate housing market practices and to document illegal housing discrimination[1].” HUD supports a national training program that provides  training and technical
assistance to nonprofit organizations that use these testers. In the last few years, HUD has allocated about $250,000 annually for this program.

These funds have helped train personnel in Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada,
New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, Washington, DC, West Virginia and Wisconsin.  However concerns have been raised that HUD may eliminate this
training  program.

The letter would urge HUD to continue to make funding available for this training as it has for most of this decade. For questions or to sign on, please contact Chris Goldson in my office at
Chris.Goldson@mail.house.gov.  The deadline for this letter is Close of Business  on November 20, 2019.

Sincerely,

 

Gwen Moore

MEMBER OF CONGRESS

 

 

November XX, 2019

 

Ms. Anna Maria Farias

Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity

U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development

451 7th Street S.W.

Washington, DC 20410

 

Dear Ms. Farias:

We write regarding the forthcoming 2019 Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA) for the Fair Housing Initiative Program (FHIP) and ask that the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) continue to make funding available in that NOFA for a Tester
Training Component, which the Department has one for much of this decade. We want to again reiterate to you how critically important this program is to our communities. 

While HUD has primary responsibility for enforcement of the Fair Housing Act, private organizations participating in the FHIP provide vital enforcement services that complement and enhance the agency’s enforcement efforts.  The most blatant forms of housing
discrimination have declined, yet impediments to fair housing persist and millions of American families confront housing discrimination that may be more difficult to recognize—keeping them from the opportunities all families deserve.  As a result, fair housing
testing has become the most effective tool to investigate violations of fair housing law.  In order to build consistency in testing among HUD-funded enforcement organizations, the agency has consistently funded a comprehensive Tester Coordinator training program

As you know, this critical funding has supported the training of personnel to conduct effective fair housing testing in Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland,
Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, Washington, DC, West Virginia and
Wisconsin.

In 2018, HUD made Tester Coordinator Training funding available to provide training, technical assistance and resources to test coordinators at fair housing organizations throughout the country. We applaud that decision.   This project supports greater consistency
in the quality of fair housing testing investigations, enhances the capacity of participating organizations to conduct testing and enforcement activities, and assists HUD in enforcing federal fair housing law.

However, to ensure that these outcomes are continued, it is imperative
for several reasons that funding for the Tester Training Component is again included in the 2019 FHIP NOFA. Foremost, many testing organizations experience significant staffing changes in the position of test coordinator. From 2012 to 2018, 58% of the 87 FHIP-funded
participating organizations experienced staff turnover in the position of test coordinator and almost half of the 191 test coordinators trained are no longer with those organizations. It is critically important that we continue to ensure that individuals are
properly trained to carry out this important testing to help detect and stop discrimination in the housing market.

Moreover, shifting housing market dynamics, the subtleties of illegal housing discrimination, new technologies in the housing industry and case law are ever-changing. As a result, ongoing training is necessary for test coordinators, as it is for law enforcement
professionals and attorneys to obtain the capabilities to address new and ongoing challenges in their field.

Funding for the current 18-month grant ends December 2020, and if adequate Tester Coordinator Training funding is not made available by HUD this year, these critical activities will end.  The Fiscal Year 2019 Omnibus included sufficient funding to continue
Tester Coordinator Training as a component of the Fair Housing Initiatives Program.  We ask that HUD continue to recognize that testing training is fundamental to fair housing enforcement and explicitly include Tester Coordinator Training in the 2019 Fair
Housing Initiatives Program NOFA.

 

                                                                                                Sincerely,

 

 

 


[1] https://www.justice.gov/crt/fair-housing-testing-program-1

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