Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance

Program Descriptions


16.103:  Fair Housing and Equal Credit Opportunity

Objectives:  The Fair Housing Act provides freedom from discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex or national origin, handicap and familial status in connection with the sale, rental, and financing of housing and other related activities. The Equal Credit Opportunity Act (ECOA) prohibits discrimination in credit transactions on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, marital status, or age (provided the applicant has the capacity to contract), because all or a part of the applicant's income is derived from a public assistance program, or because the applicant has in good faith exercised any right under the Consumer Credit Protection Act. Title II of the 1964 Civil Rights Act prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin and religion in places of public accommodations, which are defined to include hotels, motels, restaurants, gas stations, and places of entertainment.



Applicant Eligibility:  All persons.

Beneficiary Eligibility:  All persons.

Credentials/Documentation:  Not applicable.


Preapplication Coordination:  None. This program is excluded from coverage under E.O. 12372.

Application Procedure:  Contact the headquarters office listed below.

Award Procedure:  Not applicable.

Deadlines:  There is no deadline for the filing of pattern or practices cases with respect to housing discrimination or public accommodations. However, any individual filing a complaint with HUD pursuant to the enforcement scheme discussed in part 070, must file the complaint with HUD within one year of the occurrence or termination of an alleged discriminatory housing practice. Under the ECOA, any legal action must be taken within two years of the discriminatory occurrence.

Range of Approval/Disapproval Time:  Not applicable.

Appeals:  Not applicable.

Renewals:  Not applicable.

Criteria for Selecting Proposals:  Not applicable.

Examples of Funded Projects:  Not applicable.

Range and Average of Financial Assistance:  Not applicable.


  • 14.400 Equal Opportunity in Housing;
  • 16.200 Community Relations Service;
  • 29.001 Clearinghouse Services, Civil Rights Discrimination Complaints;
  • 93.001 Civil Rights Compliance Activities.


In fiscal year 1999, the program continued its very successful fair housing testing program. Since its creation in 1992 through the end of fiscal year 1999, the Department's testing program has resulted in the filing of 59 pattern or practice cases, 10 of which were filed in fiscal year 1999. It has proved to be a very cost effective enforcement mechanism. As of the end of fiscal year 1999, 55 of the 59 cases had been resolved and the total monetary relief obtained in these cases is over $8.4 million. The program also continued to put significant emphasis on enforcement of fair lending laws. Since 1992, 15 cases have been initiated attacking discrimination by financial institutions in the underwriting, marketing and pricing of loans, including one in fiscal year 1999. All but one of these cases have been resolved by consent decrees in which over $36 million in monetary relief has been obtained. Another important and continuing initiative in fiscal year 1999 concerned increased efforts to enforce the accessibility provisions of the Fair Housing Act. During fiscal year 1999, nine pattern or practice cases alleging violations of these provisions were filed. Five of these cases and several cases filed the previous year were settled by consent decrees in fiscal year 1999. In addition, out-of-court settlements were reached in a number of other matters. The consent orders and other settlements have contained important remedial principles and standards for cases such as these. Included in the out of court settlements was one with one of the nation's largest homebuilders — the Pulte Corporation. Finally, the program also achieved several other very significant accomplishments. In fiscal year 1999, the Section filed 19 pattern or practice cases. Consent decrees obtained in fiscal year 1999 in pattern or practice cases have been especially significant. In a lawsuit combined with private litigation alleging egregious racial harassment of tenants by the Boston Housing Authority, we obtained important injunctive relief as well as $1.5 million in monetary relief. In a Nevada case alleging race and familial status discrimination in the rental of apartment units, we obtained $397,500 in damages for victims of discrimination and civil penalties. In a case referred to the Department by a federal financial regulatory agency, we obtained $800,000 in civil penalties for that agency for ECOA and other legal violations. In New Orleans, we obtained important injunctive relief and $180,000 in damages and civil penalties against an apartment locator service that we alleged engaged in racial discrimination. In a race discrimination case against a Richmond, Virginia landlord, we obtained $475,000 in damages for discrimination victims and civil penalties. In Idaho, in a lawsuit against a large landlord, we obtained a settlement providing for injunctive relief and $105,000 in monetary relief for victims of alleged familial status discrimination.



Type of Assistance:  Provision of Specialized Services.

Obligations:  (Salaries and Expenses) FY 99 $9,185,000; FY 00 est $11,800,000; and FY 01 est $13,658,000.

Budget Account Number:  15-0128-0-1-752.

Authorization:  Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, Title II; Civil Rights Act of 1968, as amended, Title VIII, Public Law 90-284, 42 U.S.C. 3601; Equal Credit Opportunity Act of 1974, Public Law 93-495; Equal Credit Opportunity Act of 1976, Public Law 94-239; 15 U.S.C. 1691; Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988, Public Law 100-430.

Regulations, Guidelines, and Literature:  None.


Regional or Local Office:  None.

Headquarters Office:  Chief, Housing and Civil Enforcement, Civil Rights Division, Department of Justice, P.O. Box 65998, Washington, DC 20035-5998. Phone: (202) 514-4713. Contact: Office of Public Affairs, Department of Justice. Phone: (Voice) (202) 514-2007; (TDD) (202) 514-1888. Website address:

(See Appendix IV for more contact info.)


Formula and Matching Requirements:  Not applicable.

Length and Time Phasing of Assistance:  Not applicable.

Uses and Use Restrictions:  The Fair Housing Act, which is found in Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968, as amended by the Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988, is designed to ensure freedom from discrimination in the sale, rental and financing of housing, and other related activities. The Act provides two major avenues of enforcement by the Department. First, the Attorney General has independent authority to bring civil actions in Federal courts whenever he/she has reasonable cause to believe that any person or group of persons is engaged in a pattern or practice of discrimination or when he/she has reasonable cause to believe any group has been denied such rights in a case of general public importance. Under its pattern or practice authority, the Department may seek appropriate injunctive relief, actual and punitive damages for any persons injured by a the discrimination, and civil penalties of up to $55,000 against a defendant for the first violation and up to $110,000 for subsequent violations of the Act. Second, the Department also has authority to seek relief on behalf of individuals in certain circumstances, as follows. The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is required to investigate and conciliate any complaint of housing discrimination filed with that agency. If it cannot be conciliated, HUD is authorized to file an administrative charge if it determines there is reasonable cause to believe the Fair Housing Act has been violated. At that point, either party may elect to have such charge heard in Federal court, and if such election is made, the Department of Justice is required to bring suit in Federal court on behalf of the complainant and may seek actual and punitive damages in such an action. Aside from enforcement by the Federal government, private suits alleging illegal discrimination may be filed in the appropriate Federal or State court within two years of alleged discrimination. The ECOA, as amended, is designed to prohibit certain types of discrimination in all aspects of credit transactions. Persons who believe that they are victims of such discrimination may file complaints with one of the appropriate Federal regulatory agencies or may bring the information to the attention of the Attorney General. The Department of Justice is authorized to institute litigation in Federal court when a matter is referred to the Attorney General by an agency responsible for administrative enforcement of the Act or when he/she has reasonable cause to believe that one or more creditors are engaged in a pattern or practice of discrimination in violation of the Act. The Act gives the United States authority to seek actual and punitive damages for any persons aggrieved by the discrimination. In addition, an aggrieved person may institute suit in a Federal court pursuant to the ECOA. Title II of the 1964 Civil Rights Act is designed to prohibit discrimination in certain kinds of public accommodations. It gives the Attorney General authority to bring a legal action when he/she determines that there is reasonable cause to believe that any person or group is engaged in a pattern or practice of discrimination which violates the provisions of Title II. Remedies available in such cases are limited to injunctive relief and the Department does not have authority to seek monetary relief. Private individuals also may bring legal action under Title II. In addition, there are other civil rights laws which give such individuals authority to take legal action against public accommodations not covered by Title II.


Reports:  Not applicable.

Audits:  Not applicable.

Records:  Not applicable.


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Last Updated, November, 2000             Comments or Questions?           ©Grant 2000, All Rights Reserved