The U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD) awarded two Vermont organizations a total of $450,000 to educate the public and combat housing and lending discrimination.

The Champlain Valley Office of Economic Opportunity will receive a $125,000 Education and Outreach Initiative grant to educate the public and housing providers about their rights and obligations under federal, state, and local fair housing laws.

Vermont Legal Aid Inc. will receive a $325,000 Private Enforcement Initiative grant to investigate alleged housing discrimination, and enforce the Fair Housing Act and state and local laws.

Vermont's grants were part of $40.8 million awarded to 108 fair housing organizations and non-profit agencies in 36 states and the District of Columbia.

This year’s awards represents a $13.2 million increase over last year’s and includes $10 million to fund activities that address lending discrimination, including mortgage rescue scams.