Home / FHEO Home / Sexual Harassment Resources


SEXUAL HARASSMENT IN HOUSING IS ILLEGAL!

SEXUAL HARASSMENT IN HOUSING IS ILLEGAL!

 

Overview

If you believe that you have experienced sexual harassment or other forms of harassment based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, disability or family status, call HUD at (800) 669-9777 or (800) 877-8339 (TTY) to file a complaint.

 

Sexual Harassment Training Initiative

HUD’s Sexual Harassment Training Initiative provides information to increase awareness and prevention of sexual harassment in housing.  The training consists of different modules that provide an in-depth overview of sexual harassment in housing.  The initiative provides an overview of sexual harassment and other discriminatory harassment in housing for public housing authorities’ (PHAs) leadership and board of commissioners, managers and staff, applicants and residents, and private housing owners and landlords.  This educational tool demonstrates what harassing conduct in housing looks like and how to respond to such harassment when it occurs.  The training and additional resources can be found on HUD Exchange.

The training objectives will teach the participants how to:

  • Recognize that sexual harassment violates the Fair Housing Act
  • Understand their responsibilities
  • Analyze hypothetical scenarios to identify appropriate and inadequate responses to harassment
  • Identify steps to prevent sexual harassment and help victims

Visit our Educational Tools Section to learn more about preventing sexual harassment in housing.

 

 

Achieving Real Results for Real People

This campaign recognizes the heroism of those who took a stand against sexual harassment and acknowledge the staff and fair housing partners work to end sexual harassment in housing.  Every week a HUD Hero is featured and sharing how fair housing improved their life or the life of someone they helped. View the sexual harassment video to hear testimonies from survivors of sexual harassment in housing.

 

 

“When FHEO receives a complaint involving allegations of sexual harassment, our Intake Branch understands that we might be the first ones in a position of authority to really listen to the survivor’s story and to take their story seriously. As much as it is important to be mindful about which questions to ask, simply listening to the survivor’s full story can be a very effective way to gain their trust and confidence in our process. Ultimately, our work would not be possible without the courage of survivors who come forward and report their experiences. Sexual harassment in housing affects not only a tenant’s sense of dignity, but it violates their sense of safety and privacy in their own home, which can be traumatic and difficult to talk about. In the recent cases that FHEO investigated, the quality of the intake was greatly enhanced by our partnership with a local Fair Housing Initiative Program (FHIP) agency, who worked with the survivors to help them assert their fair housing rights and to file complaints with our office. We are fortunate to have these partnerships, and I feel privileged to work with such dedicated professionals in and outside of FHEO on cases that have a very meaningful impact on people’s lives.”

Jonathan Gast
HUD-FHEO, Equal Opportunity Specialist

As a HUD Investigator with FHEO for the Midwest region , I’m honored to help individuals and families pursue cases of potential discrimination. I’m also humbled to work in the “field” created by years of hard work by tireless civil rights advocates and community leaders. From the courage of a complainant to initially seek assistance, to the work of legal aid and fair housing agencies on the ground, to our incredible intake staff, I’m proud of my contribution as an investigator. Every person deserves to live in safety and free from discrimination and I’m continually privileged for the opportunity to play a role in the work of fair housing and civil rights.

Morgan Stewart
HUD-FHEO, Investigator

As a fair housing investigator working on sexual harassment cases, it is essential to dig deep to find relevant evidence. The problem is that sexual harassment, by its nature, is usually done in secret and is often targeted at people who are especially vulnerable and unlikely to report it. Without witnesses to corroborate a survivor’s claims, it can be difficult to move a case forward. Therefore, interviewing current and former tenants to see if others share similar experiences is essential to performing a complete investigation. It is also important to closely examine instances of alleged harassment / retaliation, even if the actions are not sexual in nature.

In a recent sexual harassment case that I investigated, the investigation indicated that the alleged harasser was using the rules of the complex to retaliate against Complainant, while not enforcing these same rules against other tenants. I was able to facilitate a conciliation of the case, in part, because of the strength of this evidence. The work that we do is so important because living at home free from discrimination is an essential right. If a property owner or manager is sexually harassing any resident, then they are depriving that person of an essential right. It is our job to uncover such action, make sure the harm is remedied and ensure that it doesn’t happen again. I am honored to do this work and serve the people of our country.

Theresa Muley
HUD-FHEO, Lead Equal Opportunity Specialist

Having the ability to file a housing discrimination complaint turned out to be a “blessing” for me. Although the process was long and exhausting for me and my family, thanks to the HUD investigator, I learned a lot about civil rights laws. If my story helps others come forward to file complaints, I will be happy. I’d like to state, “what the enemy meant for bad, God turned into good.’’ I hope anyone who finds themselves in a situation of harassment will ”Call HUD.” I thank HUD for the opportunity to tell my story. One day I hope to be able to assist battered men and women facing harassment.

Autumn Weaver
Survivor

I was incensed when I first heard of the allegations of rampant sexual harassment by a landlord in our service area. For years, women had been reporting to different authorities that this landlord had harassed them, but their concerns were discounted. I am proud that our team at Central NY Fair Housing took the lead in fighting for these women’s fair housing rights and making sure this landlord would be unable to prey on women in the future. The Fair Housing Act can be a powerful tool in enforcing housing and human rights, and we are grateful our support from HUD allows us to advocate for marginalized communities.

Sally Santangelo
Executive Director, Central NY Fair Housing
Syracuse, New York

Sexual harassment and other forms of discrimination are real and when you are a victim of such acts, as I was, it impacts not only you, but your whole family. One can only stand so strong alone in this situation. With the help and support of the Greater Napa Valley Fair Housing Center, I was able to put a stop to it, not only for myself but for others who suffered similar issues. Together, we can make a difference and I am thankful to stand with HUD/FHEO in the fight to stop discrimination, specifically sexual harassment.

Beatrice Guerrero Correa
Survivor

As an investigator with FHEO and a municipal fair housing agency, I have the honor of helping some families address allegations of housing discrimination. One case that resonates with me was one involving single mothers who were sexually harassed by the hearing officer and property manager employed by the local housing authority. As mothers trying to obtain or maintain the affordable housing they needed for their children, it is appalling that they had their housing experience tainted by men who decided to prey on low-income women in a vulnerable situation. As the investigator, it was rewarding to help them get the opportunity to let their voice be heard and let them know that these actions were prohibited under the Fair Housing Act. It felt good to see them get justice and to know they are armed with the knowledge of the Fair Housing Act so that they may help a loved one, friend, or neighbor.

Courtney N. Kyles
HUD-PIH, Director

"Fair housing improves the lives of the individuals we serve by giving them the power to fight back. Many of our clients are members of marginalized groups and have been made to feel powerless. Our work empowers people and gives them access to legal representation and advocates who don't just care about the outcome of their case, but are invested in them as people. For example, when we learned of a landlord who was engaging in the unlawful practice of sexually harassing his tenants, we worked tirelessly to stop his predatory behavior and get justice for the women whom he targeted and harassed. I am grateful to be able to provide an invaluable service to our clients and am glad to be a member of the Metropolitan Fair Housing Council of Oklahoma team."

-Ge'Andra Johnson
Staff Attorney & Legal Program Director
Metropolitan Fair Housing Council of Oklahoma, Inc.

"As a property manager, I rented homes owned by my employer. I felt it was my obligation to rent to families fairly. Once I became aware that my employer was sexually harassing female tenants, I knew I had to help them because he was sexually harassing me. I contacted Metro Fair Housing Council of Oklahoma, Inc. (MFHC), who made this situation their priority. They took legal action against someone who harassed female tenants for years. I am thankful for MFHC. Without their assistance this property owner's sexual harassment would have continued."

-Darnel Jackson
Survivor
"I watched the Fair Housing Act empower and unite the women who were once alone and not believed, amplifying their voices so they could no longer be ignored and discounted. It was one of the highlights of my career to be part of the team that helped survivors of sexual harassment assert their fair housing rights against the institution and the people who harmed them. It truly was remarkable to see this transformation unfold and to see the changes that resulted not only for the survivors themselves, but also for the women who came after them. The protections of the Fair Housing Act play a key role in helping courageous clients to come forward and persevere. Without our funding from HUD, Legal Aid of North Carolina would not have been in able to join our co-counsel Craig Hensel and Christopher Brancart in representing these remarkable women."
-Kelly Clarke
Supervising Attorney
Fair Housing Project - Legal Aid of North Carolina, Inc.

"The Metropolitan Fair Housing Council of Oklahoma, Inc. (MFHC), improved my life and the lives of my children. Being a single mother, the worst fear is not being able to feel safe in your home and not being able to protect your family. MFHC took a stand with me to stop sexual harassment from my landlord and I will continue to stand and fight for woman's rights."

-Raquel Hall-Hubbard
Survivor

"As a lawyer, I have litigated sexual harassment cases under the Fair Housing Act. I was privileged to see many brave women come forward, make their voices heard, and obtain justice. As an academic, I am continuing to gather the stories of women who have been sexually harassed by their landlords, so I know there is still much work to be done."

-Rigel Oliveri, Professor
University of Missouri
Isabelle Wade and Paul C. Lyda School of Law

"A young mother, alone, and in need of assistance.  I was given approval to live in a home that was supposed to be a sanctuary for me and my children. We were grateful that we finally qualified for housing. Unfortunately, the home inspector made it crystal clear that unless I complied with his sexual advances, he would use his power not to sign off on my voucher for housing. I chose not to remain silent about this injustice and to uplift my voice. I knew I wasn't alone; so many others had been abused and violated like me. Using the Fair Housing Act, together we could be heard and be a united force against abusers. Remaining silent would have given strength to the abusers but speaking out gave us power over them. It was my duty to speak out for others who have and may undergo abuse. Thanks to the Fair Housing Act, we have the freedom not to allow predators to hold power over us."

-Khristen Sellers
Survivor

"We didn't know the term "fair housing" when I was growing up in a segregated city, living in public housing in the 1950's and 1960's, but I personally witnessed unfair treatment by landlords. I witnessed how educating tenants about civil rights empowered them to fight against discrimination and inspired me to believe in housing rights almost 50 years ago. Over the past 41 years I have seen fair housing education, community outreach and fair housing enforcement improve many hundreds of lives. Fair housing funding from HUD/FHEO has allowed the Metropolitan Fair Housing Council to expand needed fair housing resources to Oklahomans alleging housing discrimination as we celebrate our 40th year of service."

-Mary Dulan
Executive Director
Metropolitan Fair Housing Council Oklahoma, Inc.

"There are many unsung heroes in the world of fair housing, but the countless positive outcomes that arise from our fair housing work cannot be achieved without the Complainants' willingness to come forward and take that courageous first step. It seems that these days, many outside forces conspire to erode trust in our institutions, but I know that confidence is restored in our communities - one case at a time, one person at a time - when our work touches the lives of those we serve. I am humbled by the task I have before me in my work as a fair housing investigator. When I was asked to write this testimonial, it brought to mind the following quote by American philosopher William James: "Act as if what you do makes a difference. It does." It really does."

-Laura Ishida
HUD Equal Opportunity Specialist
Los Angeles, California
 
 
 

Educational Tools