HUD Studies Awareness Of Fair Housing Laws

April 29, 2002

Organization Reports Most Americans Support Fair Housing Act, But Many Don't Grasp Legalities

Inman News Features

Most Americans support the concept behind the Fair Housing Act, the law that prohibits many types of housing discrimination, but many do not fully grasp which activities are legal and which are not, according to a report prepared by the Urban Institute and released this week by the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Thirty-eight percent of survey respondents were aware that it is illegal to refuse to rent to a family because they have children, 81 percent thought it was illegal to restrict the sale of a home to white buyers, 78 percent thought it was illegal to refuse to rent to a person with a different religion and 67 percent said that they support existing laws that prohibit home owners from refusing to sell based on a buyer's race, religion or nationality.

Fourteen percent of respondents believe that they have been subjected to housing discrimination, with blacks and Hispanics more likely to hold this belief. However, in absolute terms, a far greater number of whites believed they have been discriminated against, according to the study.

There were some modest differences across income, education, age and region of the country. The extent of knowledge of fair housing laws increases with higher education and income, people between the ages of 35 and 44 are more likely to have a high level of knowledge compared to those older or younger and people in the Northeast are somewhat more likely to have a high level of knowledge of fair housing laws than those residing in other parts of the country, especially the Midwest, according to the report.

HUD undertook the national survey as part of its commitment to assess the level of public awareness of fair housing laws and to establish a baseline for future performance measurement purposes.

The report was based upon the results of a telephone survey by the University of Michigan's Survey Research Center of 1001 men and women in the lower 48 states and the District of Columbia.

HUD is the nation's housing agency and promotes economic and community development and enforces the nation's fair housing laws.

Copyright: Inman News Service

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