New Justice Department Initiative To Combat Sexual Harassment In Housing

Apr 12, 2018

U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina Andrew Murray.
Credit WFAE

The Department of Justice is rolling out a nationwide initiative to combat sexual harassment in housing, according to a statement released by the office of U.S. Attorney Andrew Murray.

The Department of Justice is partnering with the Department of Housing and Urban Development on the 50th anniversary of the Fair Housing Act for the initiative.

The statement said the two departments will take a three-pronged approach that will include a shared strategy among departments, creating an “outreach toolkit” for sexual assault victims and promoting a public awareness campaign.

Murray said the initiative is an effort to make homes a “place of safety and security.”

“Unfortunately, that does not hold true for many individuals, who quietly endure sexual harassment and sexual aggression from their landlords or property managers because they are afraid of losing their homes,” Murray said. “Sexual harassment in housing and lending is both reprehensible and illegal. We are committed to uncovering such violations and prosecuting perpetrators to the fullest extent of the law.”

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According to the statement, the nationwide initiative follows two pilot programs the DOJ launched in Washington D.C. and West Virginia in 2017. The department said the pilots helped develop better ways for victims of sexual harassment to connect and find help. The two pilots “generated an upswing in harassment reporting” and leads for the DOJ to investigate, according to the statement.

The DOJ added that leads and investigations do not always result in enforcement actions, but said that does not undermine the importance of increased reporting by victims.