Nydia Velázquez Intros Bill to Combat Sexual Harassment in Housing
Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez (D-NY) has introduced legislation to combat sexual harassment related to housing. The measure comes on the heels of a BBC report that exposed the dark reality that many women seeking housing assistance are coerced into sexual favors. These incidents often go unreported due to fear of losing their housing benefits or suffering other retaliation. According to the Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity, there were 800 complaints related to sex in Fiscal Year 2016. However, Velázquez argued those numbers likely do not provide a full accounting of the problem and said that there needs to be more specific data gathered on the topic. The Sexual Harassment Awareness and Prevention Act would ensure HUD proactively works with other agencies to collect information on sexual harassment and abuse claims related to housing. It would commission a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report to study the effectiveness of existing initiatives at HUD to address sexual harassment, mandating that recommendations for improvement be issued. The bill would also establish an Interagency Task Force on Prohibitions Against Sexual Harassment that would implement the GAO’s recommendations and monitor any ongoing issues. “The first step to solving any problem is fully grasping its scope and this bill would ensure federal agencies are proactively looking at this issue,” Velázquez said. “We need a full accounting of how widespread this problem is and that requires different federal agencies to step up and tackle this issue head on.” More here.