Diane L. Houk joined the firm in 2009. Her practice focuses on housing discrimination matters. Prior to joining the firm, Ms. Houk co-founded the New York City-based Fair Housing Justice Center in 2004 and served as its first Executive Director until 2009.
Ms. Houk previously worked at the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice in the Housing & Civil Enforcement Section from 1991 to 2004. During her tenure as a Senior Trial Attorney, Ms. Houk served as lead counsel in more than thirty housing discrimination cases filed by the United States in federal courts throughout the country. Her docket included systemic “pattern and practice” cases, as well as individual complaints referred by HUD, involving allegations of race, national origin, familial status, sex, and disability discrimination. These included rental discrimination cases based on “testing” investigations and local land use cases, such as United States v. Yonkers, NY; United States v. Parma, OH; United States v. City of Jacksonville, FL; and United States v. Pooler, GA.
Ms. Houk created and implemented the Schools and Housing Opportunity Initiative in 1999, a one-year pilot project between the Division’s Educational Opportunities and Housing Sections to assist jurisdictions in promoting voluntary residential integration opportunities that would decrease racial isolation in schools. In 2000, Ms. Houk was named Special Litigation Counsel by the Division. In that role, she oversaw the development and litigation of race, national origin, and religious discrimination cases involving land use and zoning, redevelopment plans, building and occupancy codes, and affordable housing programs.
Prior to joining the Department of Justice, Ms. Houk was in private practice in Milwaukee, Wisconsin for seven years litigating civil rights cases alleging race, national origin, disability, sexual harassment, and sexual orientation discrimination in housing and employment. She served as General Counsel to the Metropolitan Milwaukee Fair Housing Council and handled numerous cases utilizing evidence obtained from “fair housing testing.”
Ms. Houk currently serves as Lecturer-at-Law at Columbia Law School where she has co-taught the Housing Discrimination Seminar and Externship since 2005. She previously co-taught the Civil Rights Tutorial for Stanford University’s Stanford in Washington Program for six years.
Columbia University, J.D., 1983
College of Wooster, B.A., Urban Studies major, 1981
U.S. Supreme Court; Second Circuit Court of Appeals; U.S. District Court, Southern and Eastern Districts of New York; District of Columbia; New York
Legal Services NYC Pro Bono Recognition Award (2012); Acting for Justice Award for Outstanding Leadership to Fair Housing, Fair Housing Justice Center (2010); Public Interest Achievement Award, Public Interest Law Foundation at Columbia Law School, New York, New York (2008); Special Commendation for Outstanding Service, Civil Rights Division, U.S. Department of Justice (1999)
Choice Constrained, Segregation Maintained: Using Federal Tax Credits to Provide Affordable Housing, Kawitzky, Freiberg, Houk and Hankins, Fair Housing Justice Center, (August 2013)
No License to Discriminate: Real Estate Advertising, Source of Income Discrimination, And Homelessness in New York City,” Freiberg and Houk (Fair Housing Justice Center, September 2008)
“Increasing Access to Low-Poverty Areas by Creating Mixed-Income Housing,” Houk, Blake and Freiberg (Fair Housing Justice Center, June 2007)
"Racial Differences in Real Estate Advertising Practices: An Exploratory Case Study," Galster, Freiberg and Houk, Journal for Urban Affairs, Vol. 9:199-215 (1987)