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Fair Housing Brochure

Have You Been a Victim of Housing Discrimination?

Have you been told that an apartment complex has a “no kids” policy?

Were you turned down from an apartment because you have a disability, you use a Section 8 Voucher, you’re a domestic violence survivor, or because of your sexual orientation or gender identity?

Have you been harassed by your landlord because of your accent, religion, or gender?

Have you been steered away from certain neighborhoods because of your race?

If so, you may be a victim of discrimination.  

We Can Help You

Call The Equal Rights Center (ERC) today!  We will investigate your complaint and determine whether a violation has occurred.  If appropriate, the ERC will assist you in pursuing administrative and legal remedies.  All ERC services are provided free of charge and are fully confidential.

File a complaint today:

Call the ERC directly at (202) 234-3062, or

Complete the ERC Complaint Form online.

Stay an informed resident by becoming an ERC member today:

Call the ERC directly at (202) 234-3062, or

Complete the ERC Membership Form online.


The Need for Change

A person’s ability to obtain adequate and safe housing of his or her choice affects all aspects of daily life – employment and educational opportunities, proximity to friends and family, and access to both commercial and government services.

Housing discrimination therefore directly harms the individual, but also the entire society by denying all residents the opportunity to live and learn in a diverse community. Yet housing discrimination continues to be a pervasive problem nationwide.

Today, discrimination is often subtle, and is masked by a smile and a, “we’ll get back to you.”  Many complaints go unnoticed, for this reason The U.S.  Department of Housing and Urban Development estimates that there are more than two million cases of housing discrimination each year, yet less than 1 percent of these are reported.

Know Your Rights

Landlords and property managers cannot discriminate against you based on your      membership in a protect class.  Illegal actions include:

  • Refusing to rent, sell or negotiate for housing,
  • Setting different terms, conditions, or privileges for sale or rental, or providing different housing   services or facilities,
  • Falsely denying that housing is available for inspection, sale or rental,
  • Discouraging a person from seeking housing in a particular community, because the person is or is not a member of a protected category (steering),
  • Denying any access to or membership in a facility or service related to the sale of housing,
  • *Refusing to make changes in rules, practices or services (reasonable accommodations) so a person with a disability can use the housing,
  • Refusing to allow a person with a disability to make structural changes (reasonable modifications) to his or her dwelling,
  • Threatening or interfering with anyone making a fair housing complaint,
  • Harassment, in the form of physical assaults or threats, offensive jokes, slurs, epithets or name calling, intimidation, ridicule or mockery, insults or put-downs, unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature, and
  • Any conduct which makes unavailable or denies housing.


Federally protected classes include:

  • Race
  • Color
  • National Origin
  • Sex
  • Religion
  • Whether one has children
  • Mental or Physical Disability


State or locally protected classes may also include:

  • Sexual Orientation
  • Gender Identity
  • Marital Status
  • Source of Income
  • Domestic Violence Survivor
  • Age


The ERC Impact


  • Receiving complaints from the disability community, the ERC has forced developers to make nearly 20,000 housing units accessible to people with disabilities across the United States.


  • A woman came to the ERC with a complaint that her landlord had sexually harassed her, and then evicted her when she denied his advances.  The ERC filed a complaint on her behalf and through mediation was able to secure her a resolution.


  • I had clients that were hurt by actions of a cooperative board, which indirectly hurt me as well. There is no question... that I could not, and would not, have been able to succeed on my own. ERC filled the gap, and addressed both the financial harm and, further, has ensured in the settlement that future buyers will be treated in a fair way."
                -Luke Tullberg, real estate agent and ERC client


The Equal Rights Center

The Equal Rights Center (ERC) is a comprehensive non-profit civil rights organization dedicated to identifying, challenging, and eliminating discrimination.  With more than 25 years of advancing civil rights, today the ERC and our thousands of members address issues of discrimination in six areas: fair housing, fair employment, disability rights, access to public accommodations, access to government services, and immigrant rights.

The Equal Rights Center
11 Dupont Circle N.W., Suite 450
Washington, D.C. 20036
Main 202.234.3062
Toll Free 866.719.4372
TTY 202.234.7590
Fax 202.234.3106




© The Equal Rights Center 2009—All Rights Reserved

The work that provided the basis for this publication was supported by funding under a grant with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.  The substance and findings of the work are dedicated to the public. The author and publisher are solely responsible for the accuracy of the statements and interpretations contained in this publication.  Such interpretations do not necessarily reflect the views of the Federal Government.

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