Long Island Housing Services in Bohemia has been awarded a $275,000 federal grant to fight housing discrimination.

The funds from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development was part $26.3 million doled out to 98 fair housing organizations to investigate allegations of housing discrimination and to educate the public on their rights.

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Michelle Santantonio, executive director of the Bohemia nonprofit, pictured above, said the funds will primarily pay for staff to “audit” housing complexes and landlords through undercover testing to make sure they’re abiding by fair housing laws and investigate allegations.

She said the nonprofit will also mount two key ventures – advertising nonprofits’ free help in areas drowning in the foreclosure wave and testing landlords’ reception of potential renters with children under age 18, a problem on Long Island.

“We’ve had some good results with the work that we’ve been able to do, in large part supported by this federal grant stream,” Santantonio said.

The funding is what’s called a “performance grant,” which means the nonprofit will be able to get the same grant for the next two years if HUD officials see results.

In April, which is National Fair Housing Month, Long Island Housing Services plans to hold a Spanish and English seminar on housing rights at the Brentwood Public Library.

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The housing advocate has about 25 discrimination cases open at a time and investigates as many as 75 allegations at a time, Santantonio said.

For details or help, contact the group at 800-660-6920 or lifairhousing.org.

Newsday File Photo/Dick Kraus