Department of Housing & Urban Development Updates
Department of Housing & Urban Development Updates
DEPARTMENT OF HOUSING & URBAN DEVELOPMENT
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Fall 2016 Newsletter
- Department of Housing and Urban Development Reaches Agreement with City of Richmond, VA, to Resolve Discrimination Complaints by Hispanic Residents
- Department of Housing and Urban Development Issues New Guidance on Fair Housing Protections for People with Limited English Proficiency
- Departments of Justice, Homeland Security, Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development and Transportation Issue Guidance on Title VI Protections in Emergency Preparedness, Response and Recovery
- Department of Housing and Urban Development Approves Settlement Agreement Between City of Phoenix and Fair Housing Organizations
On August 4, HUD announced that it approved an agreement with the City of Richmond, Virginia, settling 14 complaints of housing discrimination filed against the city by Hispanic residents under the Fair Housing Act and Title VI. The complaints alleged that the City of Richmond selectively enforced its code requirements against residents of the city's mobile home parks, who are predominantly Hispanic.
The complainants alleged that, due to their national origin, the city imposed unreasonable and legally unjustified requirements that they had to meet to avoid condemnation of their homes; intimidated and harassed them by conducting intrusive inspections with armed police escorts and threatening criminal court action and large monetary fines; and failed to provide meaningful language access to LEP residents.
Under the terms of the agreement, Richmond will pay $30,000 in damages to some of the complainants, analyze its language access needs, develop a language access plan, and conduct outreach to the Spanish speaking community. The city will also update its Analysis of Impediments to Fair Housing (AI), hold regular meetings with relevant city offices about the AI, and take steps to identify additional funding that mobile home park tenants can use for repairs to their units. The agreement with HUD and the City of Richmond is located at go.usa.gov/xKz4r. Several of the HUD complainants were plaintiffs in a separate lawsuit filed in federal court, and received an additional $40,000 from the city for relocation or home safety repairs.
On September 15, HUD issued guidance that addresses how the Fair Housing Act would apply to claims of housing discrimination brought by people who do not speak, read, or write English proficiently. The guidance addresses how various legal approaches, such as discriminatory effects and disparate treatment, apply in Fair Housing Act cases in which a housing-related decision – such as a landlord’s refusal to rent or renew a lease – involves a person’s limited ability to speak, read, write, or understand English.
Discriminatory practices, for example, could include applying a language-related requirement to people of certain races or nationalities; posting advertisements that contain blanket statements, such as “all tenants must speak English;” or immediately turning away applicants who are not fluent in English. Targeting racial or national origin groups for scams related to housing also constitutes intentional discrimination.
The guidance is available at go.usa.gov/xKz42. HUD’s 2007 Notice of Guidance to Federal Financial Assistance Recipients Regarding Title VI Prohibition Against National Origin Discrimination Affecting Limited English Proficient Persons is available at go.usa.gov/xKz4T.
On August 18, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) approved the agreement between the City of Phoenix and local fair housing organizations to resolve discrimination claims based on race and national origin under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as well as claims under the Fair Housing Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. Specifically, the organizations claimed the city did not make its online pre-application process accessible to persons with disabilities, provided vital documents in English only, and failed to notify limited English proficient (LEP) applicants that they could request language assistance. A press release and accompanying documents are available at go.usa.gov/xKz4g.
Departments of Justice, Homeland Security, Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development and Transportation Issue Guidance on Title VI Protections in Emergency Preparedness, Response and Recovery:
On August 16, the Departments of Justice, Homeland Security, Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development, and Transportation issued joint agency guidance, Guidance to State and Local Governments and Other Federally Assisted Recipients Engaged in Emergency Preparedness, Response, Mitigation, and Recovery Activities on Compliance with Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (go.usa.gov/xkGW5) (en Español - go.usa.gov/xkGZ3, Tiếng Việt - go.usa.gov/xkGZw, Kreyòl Ayisyen - go.usa.gov/xkGZS), to recipients of federal financial assistance on the nondiscrimination protections of Title VI in emergency and disaster preparedness, response, and recovery.
The guidance provides an overview of the application of Title VI in emergency and disaster management and examples of promising practices that recipients of federal financial assistance can take now, in advance of emergencies and disasters, to ensure Title VI compliance. Notably, the guidance emphasizes that Title VI obligations and protections cannot be waived during emergencies and disasters. Although every emergency or disaster situation will be different and pose its own set of unique challenges, effective planning can help avoid Title VI violations. The guidance highlights that preparation for exigent circumstances, including addressing meaningful access to services and benefits by limited English proficient communities can often make all the difference in preserving the lives of first-responders and the people they help.
Two new resources to assist recipients of federal financial assistance also accompany the guidance: the Department of Justice’s Tips and Tools for Reaching Limited English Proficient Communities in Emergency Preparedness, Response and Recovery (go.usa.gov/xkGBs) and the Department of Health and Human Services’ Checklist for Recipients of Federal Financial Assistance (go.usa.gov/xkGBJ), which facilitates the integration of the whole community into emergency-related activities. The press release announcing the guidance and accompanying materials can be found here (go.usa.gov/xkGKj).
Departments of Education, Housing and Urban Development, and Transportation Host Diversity and Opportunity Listening Session for Leaders:
On June 8, ED, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and DOT hosted an interagency listening session for education, housing, and transportation leaders at ED’s headquarters in Washington, D.C. to help state and local leaders increase diversity in their schools and communities, and to narrow opportunity gaps. The afternoon session brought together educators, researchers and community leaders with policy experts and leaders from the three agencies to discuss voluntary, community-led strategies to promote increased diversity in schools and neighborhoods. The event included panels on the benefits of diversity, opportunities at the federal level, a case study on diversity work in action, and community planning. Attendees also heard from individuals on the front lines who are doing this work, as well as from senior officials at the three agencies who discussed opportunities to further locally-driven efforts to support diversity.
Spring 2016 Newsletter updates
HUD Issues Letter of Findings Against the Alexander County, IL Housing Authority:
HUD’s Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity issued a Letter of Findings against the Alexander County (Illinois) Housing Authority finding a history of racial segregation in the Public Housing Authority and almost complete segregation by race in its two largest sites. These public housing sites contain a total of 247 units of which 239 (or 96.8%) were occupied by families with an African-American head of households, while other sites had occupancy rates that were approximately 57% African-American. The investigation also revealed that significantly fewer resources were expended on maintenance at the two largest sites in comparison to other less segregated locations and identified disparities based on race in pay and promotional opportunities for African-Americans.
HUD Reaches Voluntary Compliance Agreement with MS Regional Housing Authority:
HUD’s Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity conducted a Compliance Monitoring of the Mississippi Regional Housing Authority (MRHA No. VIII) Low - Rent Public Housing Program and Housing Choice Voucher Program. The MRHA No. VIII entered into a Voluntary Compliance Agreement with the FHEO on October 5, 2014, to correct noncompliance deficiencies determined under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act, Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Section 109 of the Housing and Community Development Act of 1974. The MRHA No. VIII now manages and operates 931 units in 14 counties.
Spring 2015 Newsletter Updates
HUD Reaches Agreement to Address Race Discrimination in a Section 8 Housing Voucher Program in Ohio:
On May 13, HUD’s Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity announced that it had entered into a voluntary compliance agreement (VCA) with the Medina (Ohio) Housing Authority to address allegations of racial discrimination in the housing authority’s Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher program. The Medina Housing Authority had a residency preference point system that effectively imposed a residency requirement, thus putting African-Americans who did not live or work in Medina County at a disadvantage. Under the agreement, the housing authority will create a $35,000 relocation assistance fund, with payments of $500 per household, to support persons moving into Medina County with a Housing Choice voucher. The housing authority will also eliminate its residency preference, purge its waiting list, and provide voucher assistance on a first-come, first-served basis. In addition, the housing authority will market its voucher program to minorities who do not live or work in the county and develop a plan to increase access to its services by persons whose ability to read or write English is limited.
A press release and the agreement are found at http://go.usa.gov/362XT.
HUD Resolves Complaint Alleging National Origin Discrimination Against the Hazleton Housing Authority:
In a complaint alleging violations of the Fair Housing Act and Title VI, the Hazleton (PA) Housing Authority agreed to resolve a complaint that the Housing Authority violated the rights of Latino families when it required them to supply their own interpreters in order to communicate with housing authority staff. Under the terms of the agreement announced on May 12, the housing authority will provide the Community Justice Project with a monetary settlement of $14,000 that will be distributed among the residents who filed complaints, and $4,000 for attorney’s fees. The housing authority will provide language services for complainants and others with limited English proficiency, including interpretation and translation for persons who visit, write, or call the housing authority about housing or HUD’s Housing Choice Voucher Program.
A press release and the agreement are found at go.usa.gov/3625e.
fall 2014 newsletter updates
Summer 2014 newsletter updates
HUD Language Access Resolution Reached:
In April, the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity reached an agreement with Nebraska’s Department of Economic Development (DED) to ensure that persons with limited English proficiency (LEP) have meaningful access to critical housing programs. The voluntary compliance agreement resolves a letter of findings issued after HUD conducted a compliance review of DED pursuant to Title VI and its implementing regulations, which require recipients to provide meaningful access for LEP persons, and other civil rights requirements and obligations. To comply with its Title VI LEP obligations, DED agreed to develop a written language access plan that details how it will provide language assistance services to LEP individuals, conduct outreach to LEP communities, provide training to its staff, and update and monitor its plan. DED also agreed to provide sub-recipients notice of their Title VI LEP obligations, to train sub-recipients on these obligations, and to monitor sub-recipient compliance. During the period at issue, Nebraska administered more than $54.5 million dollars in HUD funds. The HUD press release, which provides more details and a link to the agreement, is available here.
Section 8 Housing Resolution Reached:
The Department of Housing and Urban Development recently reached an agreement with the City of Dubuque, Iowa, eliminating the residency preference system for Dubuque’s Section 8 program, and changing the operation of that program. In a letter of findings, HUD determined that the program resulted in a significant decrease in voucher participation by African Americans, in violation of Title VI. Access the press release here. In addition, the City agreed to undertake outreach activities to underserved populations, meet increased and expanded reporting requirements, comply with additional oversight from HUD, and obtain fair housing training for core city employees. Read the full agreement here.
Direct Housing and Disaster Assistance Resolution Reached:
The Department of Housing and Urban Development reached a comprehensive conciliation agreement and voluntary compliance agreement with the State of New Jersey to provide a combined $240 million in direct housing assistance to lower income households. New Jersey agreed to reevaluate all denied applications under the State’s disaster housing program and significantly enhance the State’s outreach efforts to those with limited English proficiency. The agreement resolves a complaint filed soon after Hurricane Sandy by a number of civil rights organizations in the state including the Latino Action Network, the New Jersey NAACP, and the Fair Share Housing Center alleging violations of Title VI and the Fair Housing Act and a failure to affirmatively further fair housing. Read the full settlement agreement here, and the press release here.