Housing discrimination on the basis of race, color, sex, religion, national origin, familial status or disability is illegal and needs to be reported so it can be eliminated, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Despite passage of the Fair Housing Act in 1968, discrimination continues to occur during the process of buying or renting housing and should be reported to HUD or a HUD- approving housing counseling agency. HUD has launched a media campaign to spotlight current enforcement, education and outreach efforts aimed at fostering sustainable, inclusive communities.

Legal Aid Services of Oklahoma is a HUD-authorized housing counseling agency and hears from individuals and families who are denied housing because a family member uses a wheelchair, is assisted by a service animal, wears an ethnic headdress or falls in another category which constitutes unlawful discrimination.

Legal Aid’s Executive Director Michael G. Figgins said that 45 years after passage of the Fair Housing Act, discrimination does still exist.

“Unlawful discrimination continues to prevent many Oklahomans from obtaining the housing or their choice. We want people to know their rights and responsibilities under the law,” he said. “People have the right to fight housing discrimination and the first step in doing that is to contact HUD or Legal Aid. The toll-free number to contact Legal Aid is (888) 534-5243.”