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Private fair housing groups may request money and use it to blind test housing groups, respond to complaints or propose new projects related to COVID-19 challenges.

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced today that it has $19.4 million available to help HUD Fair Housing Initiatives Program (FHIP) agencies conduct activities that address discriminatory housing practices related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The funds – provided through the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARP) signed into law by President Biden on March 11, 2021 – will allow private fair housing enforcement organizations to respond to fair housing inquires and complaints, conduct fair housing testing, and create education and outreach activities related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The funds can also be used to address fair housing issues affecting individuals and families experiencing housing instability, “including those who may face displacement due to discriminatory evictions and foreclosures,” according to HUD.

HUD says that the funds can also be used to “equitably expand housing enforcement services for underserved populations who need their services the most.” To HUD, underserved generally means individuals who submit fair housing complaints and also come from low-income backgrounds or have a disability, as well as people of color, including African Americans, Hispanics, and Asian American and Pacific Islanders.

The money doesn’t have to go only to currently existing programs. HUD says applicants may also propose new fair housing projects relating to discriminatory practices arising in connection with the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Housing stability will be a critically important part of America’s continuing recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic,” says Jeanine Worden, HUD’s acting assistant secretary for fair housing and equal opportunity. “The funding we’re announcing today will give our fair housing partner organizations the financial resources they need to address various forms of discrimination that may occur as a result of rental and sales practices, as well as changing credit and real estate operations, related to the pandemic.”

This opportunity creates three funding levels for FHIP organizations, based on the average of their three previous annual operating budgets. The three funding award levels include:

  • Level I – up to $75,000 (for organizations with an average annual operating budget of less than $500,000)
  • Level II – up to $125,000 (for organizations with an average annual operating budget of between $500,000 and $700,000)
  • Level III – up to $350,000 (for organizations with an average annual operating budget of greater than $700,000)

Applications must be received by Aug. 18, 2021.

Organizations interested in applying for funding should go to www.Grants.gov to obtain a copy of the specific Notice of Funding Opportunity, forms, instructions and other application materials. Additional information can be found on HUD’s website: www.hud.gov.

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