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No Gobbledygook Award 4

The White House
Office of the Vice President

For Immediate Release
October 28, 1998

Vice President Gore Lauds HUD Employees for Using Plain Language

Clearer Regulation Will Make it Easier for Americans to Fight Housing Discrimination

Washington, DC — Vice President Gore gave two Housing and Urban Development Department (HUD) employees his monthly “Plain Language” award today for rewriting a housing discrimination regulation, making it easier for average Americans to file housing discrimination complaints.

“There are few things more damaging than housing discrimination because when you deny people a home, you deny them the school they want, the neighborhood they want, and often the job they need,” Vice President Gore said. “But, before today, it you looked at what it took to file a complaint, you found a 600-word form that raised more questions than it answered.”

Harry Carey, Assistant General Counsel for Fair Housing Enforcement, and Sara Pratt, Director of the Office of Fair Housing Enforcement, put into plain language a regulation on how to file a housing discrimination complaint.

As part of its work to revitalize communities, create jobs, produce affordable housing, and expand home ownership, HUD enforces the Fair Housing Act, which outlaws housing discrimination. Since 1993, HUD has received nearly 44,000 fair housing complaints and has helped obtain over $150 million in settlements and court judgments in housing discrimination cases.

“By rewriting this regulation in plain language, we are making it easier for victims of housing discrimination to file complaints with HUD and get justice,” Secretary Andrew Cuomo said.

Today’s “No Gobbledygook Award” builds on President Clinton’s June 1st Executive Memorandum that directed all executive departments and agencies to (1) write any new document that tells the public how to get a benefit or comply with a requirement in plain language by October 1, 1998; (2) write all new government regulations in plain language by January 1, 1999; and (3) revise all existing letters and notices into plain language by 2002.

Individuals may file a housing discrimination complaint with HUD by calling 1-800-669-9777 or visiting (No longer a valid link.) With regard to today’s announcement, the following is an excerpt of the regulation both before and after it was re-written

Part 103: Fair Housing: Complaint Processing

  • Before

    Sec. 103.40 Date of filing of complaint.

    (a) Except as provided in paragraph (b) of this section, a complaint is filed when it is received by HUD, or dual filed with HUD through a substantially equivalent State or local agency, in a form that reasonably meets the standards of Sec. 103.30.

    (b) The Assistant Secretary may determine that a complaint is filed for the purposes of the one-year period for the filing of complaints, upon the submission of written information (including information provided by telephone and reduced to writing by an employee of HUD) identifying the parties and describing generally the alleged discriminatory housing practice.

    (c) Where a complaint alleges a discriminatory housing practice that is continuing, as manifested in a number of incidents of such conduct, the complaint will be timely if filed within one year of the last alleged occurrence of that practice.

  • After

    Sec. 103.18 Is there a time limit on when I can file?

    Yes. You must notify us within one year that you are a victim of discrimination. If you indicate there is more than one act of discrimination, or that it is continuing, we must receive your information within one year of the last incident.