Fair Housing Month
The Fair Housing Act (FHA), 42 U.S.C. § 3601, et seq., ensures that people in the United States can seek a place to live and reside in their communities without fear of discrimination. In general, the FHA makes it unlawful to discriminate because of race, color, sex, national origin, familial status, or disability when a person is renting or buying a home, getting a mortgage, seeking housing assistance, or engaging in other housing-related activities.
The FHA also has criminal penalties. In fact, the criminal provision of the FHA—Section 3631 of the FHA, 42 U.S.C. § 3631—is one of five Federal hate crimes laws the Department of Justice may use when someone has criminally threatened or interfered with fair housing rights.
April is Fair Housing Month. In recognition of the important role served by enforcement of the criminal provisions of the FHA, we are highlighting some recent successful prosecutions:
- In Cincinnati, Ohio, a man destroyed a rental home owned by an inter-racial couple . Among other acts, he spray painted walls with racial epithets and drew images of swastikas. He also turned on the gas stove in the upstairs kitchen; poured paint into the burners; and attempted to remove a smoke detector above the stove.
- In Seminary, Mississippi, invoking a terrifying symbol of racial violence, men burned a wooden cross to threaten and intimidate residents of a predominantly African-American community.
- In Garden City, Kansas, three men plotted over several months to detonate a bomb in an apartment complex where Somali Muslim immigrants lived. They planned to obtain vehicles, fill them with explosives, and park them around the apartment complex to create an explosion certain to level the building and kill its occupants.
- In Los Angeles, California, a group of street gang members firebombed the residences of four African-American families during the night. They pre-
selected their targets, smashed the windows of their apartments, and then threw lit Molotov cocktails into their residences. They knew that doing so while the families slept would create a substantial likelihood of causing serious bodily injury.
THE CIVIL RIGHTS DIVISION AND THE U.S. ATTORNEY’S OFFICE FOR THE WESTERN DISTRICT OF MISSOURI SUCCESSFULLY CONVICTED THREE PERSONS FOR VANDALIZING AND SETTING FIRE TO A BI-RACIAL MAN’S HOME IN INDEPENDENCE, MISSOURI.
To learn more about Federal Hate Crimes Laws and the Fair Housing Act, visit—