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PHADA Meets with HUD IG on New Initiatives

PHADA policy staff recently met with HUD's Office of the Inspector General (OIG) on its efforts to publicize a new environmental justice initiative as well as a campaign to combat sexual misconduct in HUD housing. Staff from the OIG conducted a session at PHADA's commissioners' conference earlier this year. PHADA will continue working with the OIG to help build awareness of these issues and to keep members apprised of these efforts.


Combatting Sexual Misconduct in Housing

The OIG is expanding its efforts to ensure tenants who receive rental assistance from HUD are protected from sexual misconduct in housing by pursuing and investigating predatory landlords and other housing providers with authority and control over HUD assisted housing.

These OIG investigations have resulted in criminal and civil prosecutions against landlords, with monetary settlements for victims and jail time for offenders. One such case involves a New Jersey landlord, Joseph Centanni, who owned hundreds of rental units in and around Elizabeth, New Jersey. Centanni was ordered to pay $4.5 million in monetary damages and a civil penalty to resolve a Fair Housing Act lawsuit related to his sexual harassment of tenants and housing applicants for more than 15 years. This settlement is the largest monetary settlement the Department has ever obtained in a case alleging sexual harassment in housing.

The OIG published a public service announcement in March to raise awareness and help victims of sexual harassment identify and report misconduct in HUD-assisted housing.
Sexual Harassment in Housing is ILLEGAL. Fair Housing is your RIGHT.

The OIG works with the Department of Justice on criminal and civil prosecution and penalties for those who sexually assault or harass HUD tenants, and recently published a bulletin in recognition of Sexual Assault Awareness Month to help raise awareness on recognizing and reporting sexual misconduct in housing.


Environmental Justice Initiative

The OIG is prioritizing efforts to promote safe, affordable housing by reducing environmental and public health hazards through compliance with environmental laws and regulations to protect the health of low-income households. These efforts include:

  • Ensuring public housing agencies, landlords, contractors and inspectors properly identify lead hazards and use safe work practices to reduce and prevent lead exposure and poisoning in HUD-assisted housing.
  • Ensuring landlords fulfill their obligations to provide housing units that are decent, safe, and sanitary, and make necessary repairs to units in a timely and safe manner.
  • Combatting financial fraud schemes that exploit vulnerable populations relying on HUD-assisted housing assistance, such as landlords who overcharge rent or housing fees.

 The OIG has published two public service announcements aimed at encouraging anyone with information about environmental hazards or financial fraud schemes to contact its hotline.

  • HUD Office of Inspector General Hotline: 1-800-347-3735
  • Website: www.hudoig.gov.

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