Fair Housing Enforcement Assistance
SSHC has been operating fair housing enforcement activities since its inception in 1975, when several League of Women Voter groups in the south suburbs formed the agency to monitor and address suspected racial steering by real estate agents. Based on this origin and the predominant single family home nature of its service area, SSHC has focused more attention and resources on the real estate sales market practices than most other private fair housing agencies across the country. SSHC has also developed comprehensive fair housing enforcement investigative programs to monitor rental, mortgage lending, fair housing accessibility, homeowners’ insurance, advertising/marketing practices, and abandoned bank-owned REO properties.
SSHC is recognized under the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Fair Housing Initiatives Program as a Qualified Fair Housing Organization funded to perform enforcement activities including:
• Conducting complaint intake, giving legal advice and referral information, investigating, and when warranted, performing informal dispute resolution of fair housing complaints brought by the general public throughout the project area
• Processing fair housing complaint actions, where evidence of fair housing law violations is present, with HUD and in federal court, and local/state administrative agencies (Cook County Commission on Human Rights, Chicago Commission on Human Relations, Illinois Department of Human Rights, and other municipalities with fair housing ordinances in the project area)
• Advocating for mortgage distressed homeowners in protected classes victimized by past discriminatory practices, and negotiating with lenders on workout options, including refinancing and other loan modification options to reach successful resolutions
• Monitoring of real estate sales, rental management, builder/developer, architect, mortgage lender, and homeowner insurance practices through the use of comprehensive, nationally recognized, fair housing testing and investigation techniques
• Targeted site, media, and public record investigations to uncover or substantiate evidence of housing discrimination violations
• Planning systemic investigations of the housing markets with the collaboration and partnership of local governments, municipalities, and housing advocacy groups
• Implementing mortgage lending testing to monitor the treatment of mortgage distressed homeowners in protected classes
• Conducting REO bank-owned vacant foreclosed property site testing to identify any differences in the way vacant foreclosed homes in predominantly African-American/Latino communities are being maintained and marketed in comparison to predominantly white communities.