HUD announces app meant to help in fight against housing discrimination

The Department of Housing and Urban Development officially launched an app in an effort to give average Americans greater access to information about fair housing practices.

John Trasviña, HUD’s assistant secretary for fair housing and equal opportunity, said that he hopes the app will help to “bring us into the 21st century” and not require people to call the department’s hotline or deal with a paper complaint.

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“It’s using the latest technology to make sure we’re accessible to people around the country,” he said.

Users will be able to look up information on fair housing practices and even file complaints straight from the app, which Trasviña said could help arm people with valuable information as they look for housing.

The app has been available for a couple of months on Apple’s App Store, but the department announced its official release Thursday at the MobileGov Summit.

The app drew praise from a number of fair housing advocacy groups.

“The ability to simply and quickly retrieve fair housing information ‘on the go’ will hopefully result in a greater understanding by the public at large of fair housing laws, and increased compliance with those laws,” wrote Ken Walden of Access Living, which focuses on finding accessible housing for people with disabilities.

Maya Rupert of the National Center for Lesbian Rights said in a statement that the app will help “increase our ability to share crucial information about the right to fair housing for the LGBT community and help the community report claims of discrimination.”

Trasviña said that 300 to 400 people have downloaded the app, and that one woman in New Jersey affected by Hurricane Sandy has used the program to file her own complaint.

“In a disaster situation, people may not have power in their home, may not have access to the Internet. But if they have a phone, they can have access to the information,” he said.

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