WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced today that it has entered into a Conciliation/Voluntary Compliance Agreement resolving a complaint brought by complainant PathStone, a real estate development corporation based in Rochester, NY, against Whitehall Township and Whitehall Zoning Hearing Board, in Whitehall, Pennsylvania. The complaint alleged that Whitehall engaged in discriminatory zoning practices. Read the Conciliation/Voluntary Compliance Agreement.
The Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in zoning and land use, including setting discriminatory terms and conditions and making housing unavailable, because of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability, or familial status. In addition, Title VI of the Civil Rights Act and Section 109 of the Housing and Community Development Act of 1974 require recipients of federal financial assistance not to discriminate and to conduct and administer housing programs in conformity with civil rights laws.
“Municipalities have the critical responsibility to approve housing in a manner that is fair, inclusive and accessible,” said Gustavo Velasquez, HUD Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity. “We are pleased that this agreement has been reached and expect it to lead to greater housing opportunities for families interested in making Lehigh Valley home.”
The Agreement settles PathStone’s allegations that Whitehall discriminated because of race, national origin, family status, and disability when it denied its request to construct affordable multifamily housing in the Township.
Under the agreement, which will be in place for five years, Whitehall will pay $375,000 to PathStone. It will also, among other things, provide the necessary permits for the housing, actively promote the project on its website and in its quarterly newsletters.
In addition, Whitehall will review its zoning codes with the assistance of a fair housing consultant, provide fair housing training, and remove barriers to the development of affordable housing, so as to ensure compliance with fair housing laws.
People who believe they have experienced housing discrimination may file a complaint by contacting HUD’s Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity at (800) 669-9777 (voice) or (800) 927-9275 (TTY). Housing discrimination complaints may also be filed by going to www.hud.gov/fairhousing, or by downloading HUD’s free housing discrimination mobile application, which can be accessed through Apple and Android devices.