The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) today announced that HUD has worked with Google to improve Google’s online advertising policies to better align them with requirements of the Fair Housing Act, where applicable. The Fair Housing Act is administered by HUD and prohibits discrimination in the sale, rental and financing of most housing in the United States because of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability and familial status. Discriminatory advertising in connection with the sale, rental or financing of housing is also unlawful, and includes restricting who sees housing-related ads on these bases.
“Advertising practices may continue to evolve but our Nation’s laws are unwavering,” said HUD Secretary Ben Carson. “It is one of our key duties at HUD to enforce the Fair Housing Act and ensure that all Americans have housing choice. Improvements are underway in the online advertising space, and HUD encourages platforms, such as Google, to take these types of steps to eliminate unlawful discrimination in advertising and seek to ensure compliance with our Nation’s Fair Housing laws.”
HUD has had a sustained effort under Secretary Carson’s leadership to address unlawful practices under the Fair Housing Act facilitated by online platforms. In March 2019, Secretary Carson filed a Fair Housing charge against Facebook for discriminatory practices. HUD has also been engaged with other platforms to improve their policies and practices for housing-related advertisements. For example, Google enhanced its anti-discrimination policies by adopting a specific policy prohibiting advertisers from engaging in certain discriminatory practices when placing housing-related ads using Google’s advertising services. Google has indicated that it will continue to work with HUD to foster a better understanding of how the principles of the Fair Housing Act can best be upheld in the context of online and targeted advertising.
HUD offers general and particularized guidance on the Fair Housing Act and will continue to review online advertising platforms to ensure that people are not being denied housing opportunities advertised online because of their protected class. HUD encourages all platforms and advertisers – whether online or traditional – to ensure that their advertising policies and practices comply with the Fair Housing Act.
If you have questions, or you are a person who believes you have experienced housing discrimination, you may file a complaint of discrimination by contacting HUD’s Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity at (800) 669-9777 or visiting How to File a Complaint on HUD’s website. Materials and assistance are available for persons with limited English proficiency. Individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing may contact the Department using the Federal Relay Service at (800) 877-8339.