After several weeks of telephone tag and email exchanges, I was granted a telephone interview today with Bryan Greene, HUD Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Enforcement Division in Washington, D.C.
I had earlier forwarded by email a list of questions for HUD that were submitted by Active Rain members in mid-September. The HUD official had the opportunity to look these over and therefore he was prepared for my questions in advance.
Since so many of the questions from AR members were anecdotal, Bryan suggested that all questions related to specific incidents or how to deal with a specific request from a consumer should be directed to the HUD Discrimination Hotline, at 1-800-669-9777. An inquiry may also be directed to the HUD website for answers, at www.hud.gov/fairhousing.
During the course of our interview, the HUD official brought up the following points:
- HUD is actively watching the Web, looking for instances of non-compliance with Fair Housing Laws. Mr. Greene said "if we see violations on the Web, or if violations are reported to us, we investigate". He mentioned that there is currently a pending investigation of a real estate company which is allegedly involved in religious discrimination. The information behind that investigation came from the Internet.
- HUD expects real estate professionals to report others who violate Fair Housing Laws. Mr. Greene commented that "if an individual remains mute and fails to report a violation, that may be a violation in itself". HUD wants real estate professionals to police the industry themselves and that includes reporting "all discriminatory acts".
- HUD says Fair Housing complaints are on the rise, particularly over the past two years. HUD gathers statistical information on complaints and they plan a 2010 study which will track changes in complaint reporting over the current decade.
- Non-licensees are just as liable to be prosecuted as those who hold a license. That includes people in related industries such as home staging.
Mr. Greene noted that real estate licensees should acquaint themselves with the Federal protected classes and the bases on which discrimination complaints are founded. I brought up that many member questions dealt with issues of schools, crime statistics and other social information. He replied that questions about social issues "are sometimes a proxy for prohibited issues" and mentioned the need to be aware when a consumer question crosses that line.
I'd like to thank Bryan Greene of HUD and Ms. Shantae Goodloe in the HUD Office of Public Affairs in Washington, D.C., for setting up this interview. I'd also like to thank Ms. Jamie Pedraza, Director of the Minneapolis HUD Field Office, for her assistance in making the interview possible.
You'll find information that lead to this post in the following previous posts;
Why is my Agent So Vague? (by Charles McDonald)
Copyright © 2007 by Eric Kodner, All Rights Reserved