Fair housing training needed
The city of Phoenix, Arizona, will provide Fair Housing Training for its staff. That’s one of several terms reached in an agreement with two fair housing organizations. This week, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced the agreement resolves a number of complaints of housing discrimination.
The charges were serious in this case. Southwest Fair Housing Council and Arizona Fair Housing Center both accused the city of violating the Fair Housing Act, Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in the federally funded Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) program. According to the HUD news release:
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 applicants with limited English proficiency (LEP) that they could request language assistance.
HUD took up the case after the organizations filed the first complaint about possible discriminatory practices. The agreement says the city of Phoenix “immediately adjusted its processes to ensure that they comply with civil rights laws” after the complaint was filed. The city also extended the waiting list period and issued a news release about the extension.
“Decent, safe affordable housing provides the foundation low-income families need to build a better life and should be offered on an equal basis,” said Gustavo Velasquez, HUD Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity. “HUD commends Phoenix city leaders for their swift action and for agreeing to change their subsidized housing application process so that it is consistent with our nation’s fair housing laws.”
Gustavo Velasquez, HUD Assistant Secretary
Stipulations are a checklist for Public Housing Authorities
The agreement stipulates the city of Phoenix will continue:
- to accept online and paper pre-applications for the HCV program
- providing reasonable accommodations to people with disabilities, including accepting pre-applications over the phone, providing one-on-one assistance to people with disabilities in completing their applications, and providing interpreter services to applicants who are deaf or hard of hearing
- providing oral language assistance, including interpreter service, to LEP persons who need assistance in the application process
- insuring staff are available during business hours to respond to reasonable accommodation and language assistance requests
- to prominently display on its website the availability of language assistance and reasonable accommodations
- post the particulars of the Conciliation/Voluntary Compliance Agreement on its website in English, Spanish, Arabic, Vietnamese, and Chinese
- obtain fair housing training for its staff
Housing authorities would do well to use the above stipulations as a checklist. Is your staff following the right policy and procedure? Is your PHA compliant with HUD rules and regulations? What can you do to bring your staff into compliance?
You can read the entire agreement here.
If you think your staff needs Fair Housing and/or other training, call on Navigate at 888-466-5572.
Navigate Affordable Housing Partners is a leading expert in affordable & public housing. We offer consulting and training services nationwide. Founded in 1980, Navigate Affordable Housing Partners continues to be a thought-leader in the fields of affordable housing and public housing. We operate not only as a Section 8 Performance Based Contract Administrator for HUD but also as an affordable housing consultant for Public Housing Authorities. Our training and customer service is unmatched.