HUD Kicks Off Fair Housing Month with Anti-Sexual Harassment Campaign

April is Fair Housing Month, a time when HUD celebrates the Fair Housing Act and recommits itself to ensuring every American has access to housing that’s free from discrimination. The Fair Housing Act makes it unlawful to discriminate in housing transactions based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, disability, or family status.

To mark the occasion this year, HUD has launched a campaign and training initiative to help protect people from harassment by landlords, property managers, and maintenance workers in HUD-assisted housing. The “Call HUD: Because Sexual Harassment in Housing is Illegal” campaign aims to educate the public about what behaviors constitute sexual harassment and what to do and whom to contact if they experience it where they live. The initiative also offers sexual harassment training to employees of public housing authorities and other housing providers.

“Complaints we receive and cases we see tell us that there are some housing providers who unfortunately prey on vulnerable men and women,” Anna María Farías, HUD’s Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity, said in a statement. “No one should have to tolerate harassment or unwanted sexual advances in order to keep a roof over their head, and HUD will continue to take appropriate action when discrimination of this type occurs.”

HUD’s Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity (FHEO) introduced the “Call HUD” campaign during its Fair Housing Month opening program. The program highlighted ABC Nightline’s recent story, “Uncovering Rampant Sexual Harassment in Housing Systems,” which featured women who shared their stories of abuse and the impact the experience had on their lives, as well as how HUD and the Justice Department helped them to obtain the justice they deserved, and in one case, a $2.7 million settlement.

HUD will end the month with a closing ceremony on April 29 that will include a Fireside Chat between HUD and DOJ representatives involved with the initiative. The event will also include the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding, which establishes, among other things, sexual harassment training sessions for housing providers.