TALLAHASSEE – Allegations of illegal housing discrimination against Floridians will continue to be investigated at the state level, following notification to the Florida Commission on Human Relations (FCHR) that it has earned continued certification as a “substantially equivalent agency” by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
FCHR, the state’s foremost anti-discrimination agency, received a flawless evaluation of its performance and procedures for reviewing housing discrimination complaints over the past year. As a result, FCHR will remain authorized to conduct housing investigations backed by state-level legal protections equivalent to those ensured by federal housing laws. Without that certification, housing discrimination complaints could only be investigated by federal authorities.
“Recertification means state investigators and attorneys – who certainly know Florida’s housing circumstances better than the federal government – will be able to make sure housing practices comply with all legal requirements,” said FCHR Chair Dr. Donna Elam. “Floridians won’t have to wait in line with residents of other states to have their complaints heard, and that means all parties will find justice sooner rather than later.”
Floridians anywhere in the state who believe they have been the victims of housing discrimination may file a complaint either with the federal government or FCHR. In most cases, even if they file directly with the federal government the case will be referred to FCHR to investigate.
The number of housing discrimination complaints received by FCHR has jumped by more than two-thirds since the 2005-2006 fiscal year, from 192 that year to 323 in 2009-2010 – a 68 percent increase. On average, FCHR receives a new housing discrimination complaint every working day of the year.
Since its creation in 1969, the Florida Commission on Human Relations has investigated and closed more than 74,000 cases in its role of enforcing the Florida Civil Rights Act, the Florida Fair Housing Act and the Florida Whistle-blower’s Act. Since 2006, Florida businesses have saved an estimated $52 million-plus by participating in the Commission’s mediation services, thus avoiding costly lawsuits that would waste time and resources that can instead be used for job creation.
For more information, contact the federal government or reach FCHR at http://fchr.state.fl.us .