National Fair Housing Alliance Annual Report Finds Uptick in Fair Housing Complaints

The National Fair Housing Alliance (NFHA) has released its “2022 Fair Housing Trends Report.” The report, released annually, examines trends in housing discrimination and recent fair housing cases and provides policy recommendations. This year’s report finds that 31,216 fair housing complaints were filed in 2021, up from 28,712 filed in 2020, despite fewer agencies reporting data. This is the highest number of housing complaints filed in at least 25 years, and nearly 82% of the complaints originated during rental transactions. In response to the growing number of complaints, NFHA recommends increased federal funding for agencies that process discrimination allegations.

Each year, NFHA collects fair housing complaint data from HUD, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), local Fair Housing Assistance Programs (FHAPs), and private fair housing organizations (FHOs). These data include where the complaint occurred, the basis of discrimination, the type of housing transaction, and the type of agency processing the complaint. In 2021, 31,216 fair housing complaints were filed, the most ever reported by NFHA. The overwhelming majority of housing discrimination complaints – nearly 72.6% – were processed by FHOs. FHAPs processed 20.5% of complaints, followed by HUD (6.7%) and DOJ (0.12%). The number of complaints processed by FHOs increased by more than 1,500 between 2020 and 2021, despite seven fewer FHOs reporting data in 2021.

Housing discrimination complaints alleging discrimination based on disability were the most common type of complaint, representing 53.7% of all cases. The authors of the report note that, as in previous years, complaints alleging discrimination based on disability are likely most common because they are the easiest to detect. These complaints often involve an outright refusal to make a reasonable accommodation, for example, as opposed to other forms of discrimination, which can occur more covertly. Complaints filed on the basis of race were the next most common, making up 16.8% of all cases. An increasing number of complaints were based on characteristics that fall outside of federally protected classes, though some states and localities offer additional protections for members of these classes. Such complaints included discrimination based on source of income, criminal background, and sexual orientation, and discrimination related to being a victim of domestic violence.

The report also highlights important fair housing cases from 2021, including cases related to redlining, land use and zoning, discrimination against people with hearing disabilities, and discrimination in disaster relief funding. In one of these cases, HUD found that the Texas General Land Office (GLO) discriminated against communities of color in Southeast Texas when distributing over $4 billion in Community Development Block Grant-Disaster Mitigation (CDBG-MIT) funds (see Memo, 3/14). The decision was the result of an administrative complaint filed by NLIHC partners Texas Housers and the Northeast Action Collective.

In light of the growing number of housing discrimination complaints, NFHA recommends that additional federal funding go toward the Fair Housing Initiatives Program (FHIP) and Fair Housing Assistance Program (FHAP) to help non-profits and state and local civil rights agencies respond to these complaints. NFHA also recommends increased funding for HUD’s office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity to bolster capacity and to facilitate more timely investigations into discrimination allegations.

NFHA’s annual report can be found here: