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HUD No. 20-207
HUD Public Affairs
(202) 708-0685
FOR RELEASE
Thursday
December 10, 2020

HUD REACHES VOLUNTARY COMPLIANCE AGREEMENT WITH CALIFORNIA’S CITY OF HEMET OVER DISCRIMINATORY “CRIME AND NUISANCE FREE” PROGRAMS


WASHINGTON - The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced today it has reached a Voluntary Compliance Agreement with the City of Hemet in California, resolving allegations that the city’s Rental Registration, Crime-Free Rental Housing, and Abatement of Chronic Nuisance programs were enacted for discriminatory reasons and targeted minority residents in violation of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.  Under the agreement, the city will repeal the ordinances that established the programs and create a remediation fund of $200,000 to improve housing conditions for low- or moderate-income households, including by proactively addressing potential code violations. Read the agreement.

Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 holds that no person in the United States shall, on the ground of race, color or national origin, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.

“Programs that purport to make housing ‘crime free’ or free of ‘nuisances’ may not be used as tools for enacting discriminatory housing policies and practices,” said Anna María Farías, HUD's Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity. “A person’s race or nationality should not dictate where they may live, and we’re pleased that this agreement commits the city to ending its unlawful programs.”

Michael B. Williams, HUD Principal Deputy General Counsel said, “HUD is committed to enforcing fair housing and civil rights laws, including Title VI, and will continue to ensure that its grantees comply with their obligation not to discriminate on the basis of any protected class. HUD will continue to protect the right to be free from housing discrimination.”

Since 2013, the City of Hemet spent approximately one million dollars in Community Development Block Grant funds on the enforcement of programs which imposed penalties on property owners if five or more calls per year were made to law enforcement or to code enforcement for nuisance activity at a property. The terms of the programs lacked an exception for calls from victims of domestic violence or other crimes and did not have safeguards for individuals with disabilities. The programs also required landlords to enforce a crime-free lease addendum mandating immediate eviction for a single act of broadly defined criminal activity. Landlords also were subject to annual inspections, fees, and a registration process that required the property to be kept “free from crime, nuisances and other unwanted behavior.”

People who believe they have experienced discrimination may file a complaint by contacting HUD's Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity at (800) 669-9777 (voice) or (800) 927-9275 (TTY). Housing discrimination complaints may also be filed by going to hud.gov/fairhousing.

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