5 Focus Areas for Fair Housing Community Groups: Is Your CMS Ready?
Did you know that HUD granted almost $40 million to 138 community organizations nationwide for FHA and Fair Lending investigation and enforcement activities in fiscal year 2014? Some of these investigative efforts include undercover “testers” to identify potential discrimination. In light of these government-supported activities, does your existing compliance program provide your financial institution sufficient support and controls for these five common areas of focus?
The US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) financially supports community-based organizations that provide fair housing enforcement and education through the Fair Housing Initiatives Program (FHIP). The FHIP provides grants to fair housing organizations and other consumer protection non-profits.
These organizations partner with the HUD to help connect individual consumers to government agencies that handle complaints of housing discrimination. These organizations also conduct preliminary investigation of claims, including sending out “testers” to determine if equally qualified people are being treated differently. Additionally, the FHIP has initiatives that promote fair housing laws and equal housing opportunity awareness.
Last week, the HUD released their fiscal year 2014 competitive grants. Approximately $38.3 million in grants were awarded to 138 fair housing organizations and non-profit agencies in 43 states as well as the District of Columbia. Fourteen organizations were awarded grants in New York, 12 in California, and 11 in Florida, Illinois, and Ohio.
“These funds support community-based organizations that do great work every day on the front lines in the fight for fairness and equality in our nation’s housing market,”
- Julian Castro, HUD Secretary
This type of funding is not new. In fact, the FHIP grants have been fairly consistent. However, more organizations than ever are to receive grants in fiscal year 2014:
- 2014: $38.3m in grants to 138 fair housing organizations and other non-profit agencies in 43 states. (Click here to see release)
- 2013: $38.3m in grants to 95 fair housing organizations and other non-profit agencies in 38 states. (Click here to see release)
- 2012: $41.18m in grants to 99 fair housing organizations and other non-profit agencies in 35 states. (Click here to see release)
5 Areas of Focus for FHIP Grant Recipients
We have pulled examples of some of the more common “activities” outlined in the individual grants to provide a perspective on the more common types of activities that are being supported with the funding:
1. Enforce the Fair Housing Act / Fair Lending
- “Enforcement activities will include matched-pair fair housing tests, with referrals of systemic discrimination cases to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development for additional review and enforcement."
- “Submitting referrals to HUD or a Fair Housing Assistance Program agency for assistance in remedying allegations of fair housing/lending discrimination.”
- “Enforce the FHA and fair lending laws against violators through complaints filed with HUD or substantially equivalent agencies.”
2. Intaking, Filing and Pursuing Complaints
- "File complaints with HUD... and represent clients in those proceedings."
- "Providing a well-publicized easily-accessed intake and complaint system."
- "Intake, processing and investigation of complaints of discrimination in housing-related activities."
3. Provide Training and Outreach
- “Conduct education and outreach activities to educate the community about the fair housing laws.”
- "Educational opportunities will include two webinars, a mid-project meeting, and a final closeout event."
- “Promote fair housing and the availability of ATC’s services on television and radio and in print advertisements focused on disability and minority homebuyers"
4. Conduct Testing and Investigations
- “Recruit and train testers and refresher training for current testers."
- “Conduct systematic testing…where statistics point to any form of discrimination.”
- “Testing programs for lending institutions, real estate, and rental management professionals.”
- “Develop systemic investigations based on initial testing evidence and bring administrative or legal enforcement actions."
5. Evaluate Foreclosure Activity
- “Direct client assistance with foreclosure intervention.”
- “Conduct two types of testing/investigations to address mortgage lending discrimination and REO foreclosure discrimination.”
- "Prevent foreclosures that would otherwise take place and likely further the damage caused to communities of color as a result of abusive lending practices."
6. Address Predatory Lending
- “Address predatory and discriminatory practices of banks and servicers.”
- “Providing education and outreach awareness to prevent predatory lending, mortgage fraud, and mortgage modification scams."
- "Investigation of systemic predatory lending allegations."
TRUPOINT Viewpoint: In general, we find that a “fair and responsible” attitude towards lending prevails with most organizations we have the privilege to work for. With that said, it is also important to recognize that there are 138 non-profit organizations who may be analyzing your practices (e.g., data, complaints, mystery shopping, etc.) from a different point of view. A strong Fair Lending compliance management system (CMS) will help ensure that everyone inside the financial organization is supporting the organization’s mission of being fair and responsible.
TRUPOINT Partnerscan help you design, build, manage and monitor an effective fair lending compliance program. Let us help you take the right approach. Contact us to brainstorm what will work best for you.
Special Giveaway: Effective compliance risk management starts by understanding your risk and strength of your current compliance management system. Here is a simplified risk assessment to help provoke the right conversations inside your organization.
- HUD Release on Fiscal Year 2014 Funding (Released 10/15/14): http://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/HUD?src=/press/press_releases_media_advisories/2014/HUDNo_14-123
- State-by-State Grants for Fiscal Year 2014: http://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/documents/huddoc?id=FHIP2014chart.pdf
- Project by Project Overview of FHIP Awards - $38m Aggregate: http://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/documents/huddoc?id=FHIP2014GrantSum.pdf Overview of
- Fair Housing Initiatives Program (FHIP): http://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/HUD?src=/program_offices/fair_housing_equal_opp/partners/FHIP/fhip
- Fair Lending Guidance from TRUPOINT Partners: