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Jim Guidry Commentaries
Harris County
Houston-Galveston Area Council
News Release
Thursday, July 30, 2009

 
FAIR HOUSING: KNOW YOUR RIGHTS
H-GAC Reminds Area Residents to Stay Informed on Fair Housing Act
 
As mortgage interest rates fluctuate around a 30-year record low, the number of home foreclosure sales increases in the market, and communities continue to rebuild after Hurricane Ike, the Houston-Galveston Area Council reminds homebuyers and renters to be aware of their rights under the Fair Housing Act.
 
Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968, as amended, prohibits discrimination in housing and declares it a national policy to provide, within constitutional limits, for fair housing within the United States.
 
What does this mean? Basically the Act prohibits discrimination in housing because of race or color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status or disability. The Act applies to rental properties and properties for sale, as well as mortgage lending.
 
Sellers or landlords may not make the home unavailable, refuse to negotiate price or provide different services based on the provisions of the act. And, when making a mortgage loan, the lender may not refuse to make the loan, set different repayment terms or discriminate in appraising the property.
 
The Act also prevents anyone from threatening, coercing, intimidating or interfering with a person exercising his right to fair housing. Advertising the rental or sale of a home or the processing of a mortgage that excludes someone protected by the Act is also prohibited.
 
Additional information regarding the Fair Housing Act can be found on the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) website at
www.hud.gov/offices/fheo. People who feel their rights have been violated should file complaints with HUD. While complainants have up to one year to report the alleged violation, HUD recommends filing the complaint sooner to expedite the process.
 
In the Gulf Coast Region, complaints and comments can be made to the HUD office at 1301 Fannin, Suite 2200, Houston, TX 77002. The phone number is 713-718-3199.
 
Houston-Galveston Area Council
The Houston-Galveston Area Council (
www.h-gac.com) is a voluntary association of local governments in the 13-county Gulf Coast Planning Region—an area of 12,500 square miles and more than 5.7 million people. H-GAC works to promote efficient and accountable use of local, state, and federal tax dollars and serves as a problem-solving and information forum for local government needs.



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