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LI group will use federal grants to fight housing bias

Photo of Michelle Santantonio.

Photo of Michelle Santantonio.

A Bohemia-based nonprofit has won $650,000 in federal grants to help overcome housing discrimination.

The Department of Housing and Urban Development awarded the two grants to Long Island Housing Services Inc. The funds will support the local group’s work to enforce the 1968 Fair Housing Act, according to a news release from the federal agency late last month before the government shutdown began.

Half the funds will go to a one-year grant for counseling, investigations and testing for discrimination. Long Island Housing Services will examine the practices of real estate agents and housing providers handling rentals and sales transactions, looking out for discrimination based on race, national origin, familial status and disability. It also will investigate lenders’ practices in selling bank-owned properties in minority communities impacted by foreclosures and predatory lending, according to a statement by the local group.

The remaining funds are for an 18-month grant to investigate Long Island’s residential mortgage market. Long Island Housing Services will work with Hofstra University to analyze lending practices, host a conference and distribute a report on local lending.

On Long Island, “so many communities are impacted by racial, ethnic, economic segregation and scams . . . a legacy of historical discrimination, bias, ignorance and prejudice still sorely impacts vulnerable groups,” Michelle Santantonio, executive director of Long Island Housing Services, said in a statement.

For more information, call Long Island Housing Services at 800-660-6920, visit www.LIFairHousing.org  or email info@LIFairHousing.org.

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