Our History

Photo © by Bernard Kleina

Since its founding in 2005, the Fair Housing Justice Center has established itself as a leader in fighting housing discrimination.

The organization began as a program of HELP USA. In 2004, HELP USA recognized that there was a need for an organization to counter housing discrimination in the New York City region when it learned that many formerly homeless families were encountering housing discrimination in their search for a permanent home. So HELP USA recruited two of the nation’s leading fair housing advocates, Fred Freiberg and Diane Houk, to organize what would become the Fair Housing Justice Center to fill this void.

In 2005, the FHJC opened its doors as a program of a larger non-profit organization, HELP USA. It was incorporated as a separate organization in 2007, received its 501(c)(3) IRS tax exempt status in 2008, and operates as an independent, nonprofit civil rights organization, governed by its own volunteer Board of Directors.

“The Fair Housing Justice Center was created to fill a serious void in New York City,” said Freiberg. “In 2004, one of the largest and most racially segregated cities in the nation did not have a full-service fair housing organization devoted to addressing the problem of housing discrimination and residential segregation on a regional basis.”

FHJC Co-Founder Fred Freiberg

FHJC Co-Founder Fred Freiberg 

“Housing discrimination is a fundamentally undemocratic force that excludes and divides people, subjugates some and advantages others, and prevents many populations from equally accessing a home as well as the social, economic, and educational opportunities that may come from living in a particular neighborhood. Residential segregation is a stain on our region and our nation,” Freiberg continued. “The inequalities and injustices that flow directly from housing discrimination and segregation continue to inflict serious harm on individuals, families, and entire communities.”

Since our founding, the FHJC’s investigations have led to legal challenges that have changed the way many housing providers do business; opened up tens of thousands of housing opportunities to populations previously excluded; and recovered tens of millions in damages and penalties for victims of housing discrimination. The FHJC has influenced local, state, and federal housing policies; increased public awareness about fair housing rights; and improved how fair housing laws are enforced. And the FHJC has changed lives by empowering people to exercise their fair housing rights. Read more about what we accomplished in our first 10 years.

The Fair Housing Justice Center has made a significant impact in making the New York City region more open, accessible, and inclusive for all New Yorkers, but there is much work yet to be done. If you are interested in supporting the work of the Fair Housing Justice Center, consider signing up for our mailing list or making a gift to the FHJC.