Fair Housing Testing & Compliance Programs
In many cases, SSHC may need to investigate complaints received by conducting a controlled fair housing test using trained volunteers referred to as “testers” to pose as home seekers. After receiving training, matched sets of testers, one from a protected class and one from the control group, are given assignments by SSHC’s Testing Coordinator and sent to conduct telephone or site contact tests with housing providers. After conducting a site visit or making telephone contact, testers are required to complete and submit a detailed written report about their experience. These reports are analyzed by SSHC staff to determine if differences in treatment occurred. The Testing Coordinator summarizes the findings of the matched tests and where significant differences are found submits the reports to in-house legal staff or SSHC’s outside legal consultant for compliance review.
SSHC is constantly recruiting testers for our enforcement program. While testing is promoted as a volunteer program, testers are paid a small stipend and reimbursed for mileage for each completed assignment. A three-hour initial training is required to participate in the program. Participating in the testing program can be a very rewarding experience and the work performed is essential to SSHC’s investigation into whether or not actionable discriminatory practices occurred. Potential testers cannot have any felony convictions or be actively involved in any housing provider occupation. A criminal background check is also required.
Please Contact Us if you are interested in becoming a tester for SSHC
Complaints for Aggrieved Individuals
Whether through testing or other investigation, if SSHC finds evidence of a fair housing violation this information is evaluated by Compliance Program staff and outside counsel to determine if additional investigation may be necessary, whether or not a formal administrative or court complaint can be recommended, or if some other form of informal resolution should be employed. When after legal review the filing of a formal administrative or court complaint is suggested, and the complaining party agrees to follow through, SSHC will in most cases provide or arrange for legal representation for the preparation of the complaint, filing and proceeding until resolution.
SSHC’s Compliance Program also files systemic complaints, where there is evidence of fair housing violations confirmed by Testing Program investigation but no bona fide individual is involved. These actions are brought by SSHC as an injured organization under the fair housing act and in some cases can also be brought by its testers. In many cases even where bona fide homeseeker complaint information is received the aggrieved individual or family may decide they cannot bring the action. Systemic complaints brought by SSHC can directly address the discriminatory behavior and act as a deterrent to future acts without inconveniencing specific protected class individuals.