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Sexual Harassment in Housing

Sexual Harassment in Housing

The Sexual Harassment in Housing Initiative is an effort by the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) Civil Rights Division to combat sexual harassment in housing by addressing sexual harassment by landlords, property managers, maintenance workers, loan officers or other people who have control over housing.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office can investigate reports of sexual harassment in housing and file lawsuits against harassers, even if the harassment occurred many years ago.

Reporting

If you or someone you know has been sexually harassed by someone connected to housing, contact the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s Victim Witness Unit at 617-748-3274 or by e-mailing USAMA.victimassistance@usdoj.gov.

Background

In October 2017, DOJ’s Civil Rights Division announced the Sexual Harassment in Housing Initiative. Two federal statutes – the Fair Housing Act and the Equal Credit Opportunity Act – prohibit sexual harassment in housing and are used to investigate and bring lawsuits. The U.S. Attorney’s Office works with other government agencies, such as the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, state and local governments, and law enforcement, to help victims of sexual harassment.

What is Sexual Harassment in Housing?

Sexual harassment in housing includes demands for sex or sexual acts in order to buy, rent, or continue renting a home. It also includes other unwelcome sexual conduct that makes it hard to keep living in or feel comfortable in your home.
The following may be examples of sexual harassment in housing:

  • My landlord made a lot of comments about having sex with me. I ignored him. When I fell behind on rent, the landlord said there was another way I could pay. I said no and he evicted me.
  • The housing authority inspector wouldn’t approve the apartment I wanted to rent with my voucher unless I performed a sexual act. I agreed in order to get my family off the street.
  • The maintenance person won’t fix anything in my apartment unless I have sex with him. I don’t know what I’m going to do about the broken heater when it gets even colder.
  • I went to look at a home to rent and the owner told me she would lower the rent if I had sex with him/her.
  • The owner of the home I rent makes comments about my body, clothes, and the sexual acts he wants me to perform on him. 

Resources

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