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Letter to Chair and Ranking Member of the Subcommittee for Transportation, Treasury, HUD and the Judiciary Committee on Appropriations Joe Knollenberg

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Location: Washington, DC


Letter to Chair and Ranking Member of the Subcommittee for Transportation, Treasury, HUD and the Judiciary Committee on Appropriations Joe Knollenberg and John Olver

May 3, 2006

The Honorable Joe Knollenberg
Chairman
Subcommittee for Transportation, Treasury, HUD and the Judiciary
Committee on Appropriations
2358 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515

The Honorable John Olver
Ranking Member
Subcommittee for Transportation, Treasury, HUD and the Judiciary
Committee on Appropriations
1016 Longworth House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515

Dear Chairman Knollenberg and Ranking Member Olver:

As you prepare the Fiscal Year (FY) 2007 Transportation, Treasury, HUD and the Judiciary appropriations bill, we write to request you increase the Department of Housing and Urban Development's (HUD) Fair Housing Initiatives Program (FHIP) to $50 million for the nationwide fight against housing discrimination. We also request that you provide at least $25 million for the Fair Housing Assistance Program (FHAP).

Despite the passage of the federal Fair Housing Act 38 years ago, more than 4 million fair housing violations still occur annually. Moreover, with evidence from HUD, the National Fair Housing Alliance, and others suggesting an increase in housing discrimination in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, we must ensure that enough funds are allocated to these programs.

The Fair Housing Initiative Program (FHIP) funds fair housing organizations and other non-profit groups to provide vital services to their communities. Grants are used for education and enforcement programs and range from $22,000 to $275,000. Private fair housing organizations process at least two-thirds of the nation's fair housing complaints-16,789 of the 26,092 complaints processed in 2005, and they are essential to detecting discrimination and enforcing the Fair Housing Act.

The President has proposed level funding of $20 million for FY 2007; however this proposal includes over $1.2 million for set-asides for other programs. Our request for a funding level of $50 million for FHIP ensures private fair housing organizations have the resources to combat housing discrimination. Funding a $50 million level could provide 100 housing organizations for both necessary education and enforcement efforts, an issue that has been a problem since the mid-1990s, primarily due to lack of funds. Furthermore, it could allow for the creation of additional fair housing groups, hurricane-related fair housing activities, and a national media campaign, which has not been funded for two years despite a legislative requirement to do so.

The Fair Housing Assistance Program (FHAP) funds fair housing grants annually on a non-competitive basis to substantially equivalent state and local fair housing enforcement agencies. Eligible activities include complaint processing, training, and implementation of data and information systems. The President's FY 2007 budget proposes $25 million for FHAP, the same amount we are requesting. While we recognize the budget constraints the Committee is under, we urge the Committee to provide at least the requested $25 million in FY 2007.

Fair housing education and enforcement play a pivotal role in increasing homeownership for people of color. Recent investigations of real estate agents, who were designated by HUD for testing, uncovered an 87 percent rate of racial steering and a 20 percent denial rate for African-Americans and Latinos. Discrimination has a significant impact on a community's tax base and without the benefits of homeownership and integrated neighborhoods minority populations bear the high costs of segregation. Although homeownership rates are at an all-time high, the homeownership gap between Whites and Blacks is worse than it was in 1940. Twenty-three percent in 1940 versus 27 percent today confirms these programs need more resources and funding.

Housing discrimination and segregation breed inequality. According to 2000 Census data, many parts of our nation are even more segregated than they were 20 years ago. Housing choice plays a crucial role in determining one's ability to access critical societal and economic functions: quality schools, jobs, health care services, recreational facilities and transportation. With increased funding, fair housing groups will be able to assist more individuals, the housing industry, and communities in forming integrated neighborhoods, free from discrimination.

Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely,

Barbara Lee Al Green
Member of Congress Member of Congress

Chaka Fattah Barney Frank
Member of Congress Member of Congress

Tammy Baldwin Jim McDermott
Member of Congress Member of Congress

Dale Kildee Luis Gutierrez
Member of Congress Member of Congress

Lloyd Doggett Raul Grijalva
Member of Congress Member of Congress

Bennie Thompson Joseph Crowley
Member of Congress Member of Congress

Emanuel Cleaver Dennis Kucinich
Member of Congress Member of Congress

Robert Wexler James McGovern
Member of Congress Member of Congress

Melvin L. Watt Michael Capuano
Member of Congress Member of Congress

Stephen Lynch Julia Carson
Member of Congress Member of Congress

Sherrod Brown Carolyn Maloney
Member of Congress Member of Congress

Gwen Moore Ruben Hinojosa
Member of Congress Member of Congress

Elijah Cummings George Miller
Member of Congress Member of Congress

Danny Davis Major Owens
Member of Congress Member of Congress

Donald Payne Charles Rangel
Member of Congress Member of Congress

Bobby Rush David Scott
Member of Congress Member of Congress

David Price Edward Markey
Member of Congress Member of Congress

Corrine Brown Alcee Hastings
Member of Congress Member of Congress

Juanita Millender-McDonald Marcy Kaptur
Member of Congress Member of Congress

John Conyers Debbie Wasserman Schultz
Member of Congress Member of Congress

Hilda Solis Lane Evans
Member of Congress Member of Congress

Diane Watson Daniel Lipinski
Member of Congress Member of Congress

Doris Matsui Eddie Bernice Johnson
Member of Congress Member of Congress

Louis Slaughter Stephanie Tubbs Jones
Member of Congress Member of Congress

Chris Van Hollen Susan Davis
Member of Congress Member of Congress

Nydia Velazquez Maxine Waters
Member of Congress Member of Congress

http://lee.house.gov/index.cfm?ContentID=732&ParentID=0&SectionID=4&SectionTree=4&lnk=b&ItemID=727

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