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Washington, DC - The Justice Department Tuesday announced the one-year anniversary of its initiative to combat sexual harassment in housing. Since its launch in October 2017 and nationwide expansion in April 2018, the Department has seen a major upswing in both reporting and enforcement. Over the past year, the Department has:

“This important initiative is giving a voice to victims of sexual harassment in housing. It also sends the strong message that the Department is listening to victims and taking action against landlords and managers who attempt to prey on vulnerable individuals all over the country,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General John Gore for the Civil Rights Division. “The Justice Department remains committed to our goal to make more people aware that no one should have to choose between a home and the right to be free from sexual harassment.”

“A home can never be a place of peace and comfort for individuals who are subjected to sexual harassment,” said Anna María Farías, HUD’s Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity. “We still have work to do, but the initiative has taken tremendous steps this past year toward addressing this unlawful behavior and the Justice Department and HUD remain committed to doing even more to inform the public about their housing rights.” 

The Department took several steps this past year to drive an increase in reporting and enforcement.

First, the Department held 20 roundtables about sexual harassment in housing at U.S. Attorneys’ Offices across the country. At these events, the Department creates opportunities for collaboration with local community partners, including engaging local law enforcement officers, legal aid offices, fair housing organizations, universities, civil rights organizations, and other groups.

U.S. Attorney Roundtables Hosted this Year:

Central District of California

District of Colorado

Middle District of Florida

Northern District of Georgia

Northern District of Iowa

District of Maryland

District of Massachusetts

Eastern District of Michigan

District of Minnesota

District of New Jersey (2)

Eastern & Southern Districts of New York (joint)

Northern District of Ohio

Eastern District of Pennsylvania

District of South Dakota

Northern District of Texas

District of Vermont

Western District of Virginia (2)

 

Second, the Department created an outreach toolkit designed to leverage the nationwide network of U.S. Attorney’s Offices and boost local outreach about sexual harassment in housing.

Third, the Department released a Public Service Announcement (PSA), in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), featuring three women who were identified as victims of sexual harassment in DOJ lawsuits. The Department developed a 60-second video featuring three women who were injured parties in sexual harassment lawsuits brought by the Department under the Fair Housing Act. In the PSA, the women, in their own words, share the stories of how they were harassed and the impact the experience has on their lives. The PSA is posted on the Department’s YouTube channel (link is external).

Fourth, the Department launched a webpage on sexual harassment in housing. It is available in both English and Spanish. The webpage has resources available to download. This includes a partnership toolkit, flyers in 11 languages (English, Spanish, Arabic, Chinese (simplified), Chinese (traditional), Haitian Creole, Hindi, Korean, Tagalog, Urdu, and Vietnamese), palm cards in English and Spanish, and information sheets for advocates in English and Spanish.

Finally, the Department and HUD launched a new Task Force to Combat Sexual Harassment in Housing. It is focused on five key areas: continued data sharing and analysis, joint development of training, evaluation of public housing complaint mechanisms, coordination of public outreach and press strategy, and review of federal policies. The Task Force has facilitated collaboration between DOJ and HUD in drawing attention to the national PSA, including distributing it to public housing authorities, on HUD’s YouTube channel, and through social media.

More information about the Civil Rights Division and the civil rights laws it enforces is available at justice.gov/crt. If you believe you may be a victim of sexual harassment in housing, you should:

If you have information or questions about any other housing discrimination, you can contact the Department at 1-800-896-7743.