HUD highlights fair housing protections based on shared ancestry and ethnicity

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) on Thursday joined seven other federal agencies to clarify in writing that Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits forms of discrimination, including antisemitism, Islamophobia and other related forms.

To accomplish that goal, HUD published a housing-specific fact sheet about Title VI protections.

“In addition to shared ancestry and ethnic characteristics, religion is also a protected class under the Fair Housing Act, which HUD will continue to vigorously enforce,” the department said in a statement.

The administration unveiled its National Strategy to Counter Antisemitism in May, and HUD has remained a committed partner in its implementation across the federal government.

Reiterating Title VI protections and reminding people of their broader implications is key to accomplishing the administration’s equal housing goals, according to HUD Secretary Marcia Fudge.

“Antisemitism, Islamophobia, and any other form of hate have no place anywhere, including in the home,” Fudge said in a statement. “No one should be discriminated against because of their ancestry or ethnic characteristics or their faith or beliefs.”

She added: “[This] announcement will further the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to combating discrimination in all its forms and guide our partners on the ground to enforce this country’s legal protections for Americans against acts of hatred.”

Discrimination based on “shared ancestry or ethnic characteristics” is illegal under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act, and ensuring that fact is understood is key to the White House’s housing policies, according to Demetria McCain, HUD’s principal deputy assistant secretary for fair housing and equal opportunity.

“This announcement is in line with HUD’s continued commitment to combat housing discrimination in all forms,” McCain said. “It informs those who call America home of their right to be treated equally regardless of their shared ancestry or ethnic characteristics–putting us one step closer to building a housing system that prioritizes fairness and equality.”

In alignment with the Biden administration’s national strategy was a coordinated announcement from the other involved agencies, including the U.S. Departments of Agriculture, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, Justice, Interior, Labor, Treasury and Transportation, according to White House announcement.