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Planning and Community Devleopment
Fair housing legislation specifies that housing opportunities are to be provided fairly to all persons, regardless of race, color, national origin, religion, gender/sex, familial status, or disability. In accordance with Federal guidelines, the Fredericksburg Planning and Community Development staff has analyzed potential impediments to fair housing choice and developed strategies to overcome them, as appropriate. The most recent effort is contained in the Analysis of Impediments to Fair Housing Choice, conducted in 2007.
The Federal Fair Housing Act, passed in 1968 and amended in 1988, prohibits discrimination in housing on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, gender/sex, familial status and disability. The Fair Housing Act covers most types of housing including rental housing, home sales, mortgage and home improvement lending, and land use and zoning. Excluded from the Act are owner-occupied buildings with no more than four units, single family housing units sold or rented without the use of a real estate agent or broker, housing operated by organizations and private clubs that limit occupancy to members, and housing for older persons. HUD has the primary authority for enforcing the Federal Fair Housing Act. HUD investigates the complaints it receives and determines if there is a “reasonable cause” to believe that discrimination occurred. If reasonable cause is established, HUD brings the complaint before an Administrative Law Judge. Parties to the action can also elect to have the trial held in a federal court (in which case the Department of Justice brings the claim on behalf of the plaintiff). To file a complaint with the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) please click on the following link, complete the form and submit. http://www.hud.gov/offices/fheo/nov108online-complaint.cfm
State and Local Fair Housing Resources
The Virginia Fair Housing Office investigates allegations of housing discrimination under Virginia’s Fair Housing Law. Anyone who believes they have been discriminated against in housing may file a complaint with Virginia’s Fair Housing Office. If the complaint is accepted, it will be investigated and assigned for conciliation. If conciliation is successful, the investigation will be suspended. If conciliation is unsuccessful and if it appears that discrimination occurred, the Fair Housing Office will present the evidence obtained during its investigation to the Real Estate Board. Generally, after reviewing the evidence, the Real Estate Board either dismisses the complaint, accepts the conciliation agreement, or issues a charge of discrimination against the respondents. If the Board issues a charge, it will immediately refer the charge to the Attorney General’s Office. To file a complaint with the Virginia Fair Housing Office please click on the following link http://www.dpor.virginia.gov/dporweb/fho_fileacomplaint.cfm or you may call 804-367-8530 or 888-551-3247. For TDD users, please call the Virginia Relay by dialing 7-1-1.
Locally, the City of Fredericksburg has implemented a Rental Property Inspection Program through the Building and Development Services Department. This service is provided to ensure that existing rental housing is available in safe and sanitary conditions. The Rappahannock Legal Services receives CDBG funding to provide fair housing assistance and to handle discrimination cases for low- to moderate-income City residents. RLS also develops an annual Guide to Virginia Landlord-Tenant Law (Spanish version) and Local Rental Housing in Planning District 16, to promote awareness of landlord/tenant rights and obligations as well as other resources. To file a complaint with the Rappahannock Legal Services, please call (540) 374-9101.
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