Introduction

The City of Bellevue is committed to furthering fair housing efforts by promoting fair and equal housing opportunities for its residents. It has committed to highlighting the Fair Housing Law, and Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968, by continuing to address discrimination in our community and to support programs that will educate the public about the right to equal housing opportunities.

It is the City's policy to provide services without regard to race, color, ancestry, religion, national origin, age, gender, marital status, familial status, source of income, sexual orientation, or disability. This commitment extends to all grant funded housing programs provided by the City.

It is the goal of the City of Bellevue to: (1)Reduce incidents of housing discrimination through effective education concerning housing rights to landlords and tenants; and provide investigation, conciliation and remediation services, (2) Continue to promote Bellevue as an inclusive, affordable, and accessible community, and (3)Address discriminatory housing practices in accordance with the Bellevue Fair Housing Ordinance and the Fair Housing Act of 1968, as amended, through investigation, conciliation, and resolution services.

In an effort to accomplish this goal, the City of Bellevue has adopted the Fair Housing Ordinance, which prohibits discrimination in housing and can be found under Section 15 of the Bellevue Municipal Code and in the Quicklinks menu on the left.

The Fair Housing Act

The Fair Housing Act of 1968 prohibits discrimination in housing because of:

  • Race or Color
  • Sex
  • National Origin
  • Family Status
  • Religion
  • Disability

The Fair Housing Act prohibits discriminatory practices based upon race or color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status or disability in the sale of housing, rental of housing, and mortgage lending. The State of Nebraska also has fair housing laws that reflect the federal laws.

Types of Housing Discrimination

Whether people are trying to rent, buy, sell, or finance a home or apartment, as a tenant, homeowner, or landlord, rights and protections are provided by the Federal Fair Housing Act. Illegal housing discrimination can take many forms. Examples include:

  • Realtors showing apartments or homes only in certain neighborhood
  • Advertising housing only to preferred groups of people
  • Denials of property insurance
  • Discriminatory property appraisals
  • Refusals to make reasonable accommodations for persons with disabilities

Reports across the country indicate that those who are low-income, seniors or disabled, seeking to purchase, refinance, or secure a reverse mortgage, are often targets for predatory lenders or loan fraud. Predatory lenders take advantage of borrowers with a variety of abusive practices, such as charging excessive interest rates or loan fees.

What to do if you have a Fair Housing problem

The City's Fair Housing 101 Pamphlet provides information on housing discrimination, predatory lending, and landlord/tenant rights. The pamphlet explains the laws protecting tenant and homebuyer rights, how to recognize when these rights are being violated; and where to get help.

The City of Bellevue Fair Housing Commission is the city’s organization that investigates fair housing complaints within the city limits. The Commission is appointed by the Mayor and City Council and meets on an as needed basis to review complaints and any additional fair housing concerns. To submit a complaint to the Commission, please contact the City Fair Housing Officer: Abby Highland, CDBG Specialist; (402) 293-6596; abby.highland@bellevue.net; 210 West Mission Avenue, Bellevue, NE 68005.

The Nebraska Equal Opportunity Commission (NEOC) is the state agency responsible for protecting residents of Nebraska from unlawful discrimination in employment, housing and public accommodations. People calling the NEOC to file a charge of discrimination will be referred to the agency's intake unit to set up an appointment. These staff members are trained to assist potential complainants in discerning whether particular alleged harms would be covered under the laws which the NEOC enforces. The NEOC can be contact at (800) 642-6112 and is located at the Nebraska State Office Building, 301 Centennial Mall South, 5th Floor; P.O. Box 94934; Lincoln, NE 68509-4934.

The US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is the federal agency responsible for administering the federal Fair Housing Act. To file a complaint, contact the regional HUD Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity Office in Kansas City at (800) 743-5323 or you may call HUD’s Housing Discrimination Hotline at 1-800-669-9777. You can also download the discrimination complaint form and instructions from the following: http://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/documents/huddoc?id=DOC_12150.pdf.

In February 2013, HUD released a Fair Housing app for the iPhone and iPad. The app uses the latest technology to provide the public with a quick and easy way to learn about their housing rights and to file housing discrimination complaints, and informs the housing industry about its responsibilities under the Fair Housing Act.

Information concerning the app can be accessed on the internet at http://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/HUD?src=/press/press_releases_media_advisories/2013/HUDNo.13-031. The app can be downloaded for free from the App Store at https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/housing-discrimination-complaint/id570755695?mt=8.

The following is a list of other fair housing legal assistance available to Nebraska residents:

  • Fair Housing Advisory Services, (402) 934-6675
  • Fair Housing Center of Nebraska, (800) NOW-FAIR
  • Nebraska Legal Services, (402) 348-1060
Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing

The City, as a direct recipient of Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds through the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), is required to complete an “Analysis of Impediments to Fair Housing Choice” along with a certification that states it will affirmatively further fair housing in its community.

The certification further requires that the grantee undertake fair housing planning through: 1) the completion of an Analysis of Impediments (AI) to Fair Housing Choice in the community; 2) the undertaking of actions to eliminate identified impediments; and 3) the maintenance of records regarding the analysis and actions.

Through its community development programs, HUD seeks to further its goal of increasing equal and free access to residential housing in order to achieve equality of opportunity for all persons regardless of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability, or familial status.

For any questions or additional information regarding the City’s 2011 AI, contact CDBG Specialist, Abby Highland, at (402) 293-6596 or abby.highland@bellevue.net .

The most current Analysis of Impediments to Fair Housing Choice was completed in 2010 as part of the CDBG Consolidated Plan. The City is currently preparing to complete a new analysis as part of the development of the 2014-2019 Consolidated Plan. 2011 Analysis of Impediments to Fair Housing Choice (AI)