Fair Housing:

Funding and Activities Under the Fair Housing Initiatives Program

RCED-97-67: Published: Mar 26, 1997. Publicly Released: Mar 26, 1997.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Department of Housing and Urban Development's Fair Housing Initiatives Program, focusing on: (1) how funds are allocated among the program's four initiatives or funding categories, what dollar amounts are made available under each category, and what level of demand exists for funds under each category; and (2) who receives program funds and how the funds are being used.

GAO noted that: (1) from the program's inception through fiscal year (FY) 1997, the Congress has appropriated $113 million to carry out the Fair Housing Initiatives Program; (2) the Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, judgmentally determines how funds are allocated among the four initiatives on the basis of the program legislation, the administration's and the agency's priorities, and input from the housing industry and fair housing groups; (3) the agency's budget requests to the Congress set forth how it plans to divide the total program dollars among the four initiatives; (4) the largest portion, more than $40 million, has been budgeted and made available for the private enforcement initiative; (5) as measured by the amounts requested on applications, for the 3 most recent years, fiscal years 1994 through 1996, there is also great demand for the private enforcement initiative; (6) through FY 1996, 220 different organizations in 44 states and the District of Columbia received program grants; (7) of all the funds awarded, 26 organizations received about half; (8) the largest portion of funds, about $41 million, was spent on the private enforcement initiative for activities aimed at determining the existence of discrimination in renting, sales, and lending, primarily testing to investigate individual complaints and testing to investigate industry practices; (9) grantees have used funds for a variety of other fair housing activities, such as litigation, new fair housing organizations and capacity building for existing organizations, pamphlets and brochures, print, television, and radio advertisements, and conferences and seminars for housing industry professionals; and (10) other funded activities also have included special projects on mortgage lending and insurance redlining.

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