GFHA Administrative Plan for the Housing Choice Voucher Program
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Chapter 2: Fair Housing & Equal Opportunity
INTRODUCTION This chapter explains the laws and HUD regulations requiring PHAs to affirmatively further civil rights and fair housing in all federally assisted housing programs. The letter and spirit of these laws are implemented through consistent policy and processes. The responsibility to further nondiscrimination pertains to all areas of the GFHA’s housing choice voucher (HCV) operations.
This chapter describes HUD regulations and PHA policies related to these topics in three parts: Part I: Nondiscrimination. This part presents the body of laws and regulations governing the responsibilities of the PHA regarding nondiscrimination. Part II: Policies Related to Persons with Disabilities. This part discusses the rules and policies of the housing choice voucher program related to reasonable accommodation for persons with disabilities. These rules and policies are based on the Fair Housing Act (42.U.S.C.) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and incorporate guidance from the Joint Statement of The Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Department of Justice (DOJ), issued May 17, 2004. Part III: Prohibition of Discrimination Against Limited English Proficiency Persons. This part details the obligations of the PHA to ensure meaningful access to the HCV program and its activities by persons with limited English proficiency (LEP). This part incorporates the Final Guidance to Federal Financial Assistance Recipients Regarding Title VI Prohibition against National Origin Discrimination Affecting Limited English Proficient Persons published January 22, 2007, in the Federal Register.
PART I: NONDISCRIMINATION 2-I.A. OVERVIEW Federal laws require PHAs to treat all applicants and participants equally, providing the same opportunity to access services, regardless of family characteristics and background. Federal law prohibits discrimination in housing on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, familial status, and disability. In addition, HUD regulations provide for additional protections regarding sexual orientation, gender identity, and marital status. The PHA will comply fully with all federal, state, and local nondiscrimination laws, and with rules and regulations governing fair housing and equal opportunity in housing and employment, including:
Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964
Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968 (as amended by the Community Development Act of 1974 and the Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988)
Executive Orders 11063 and 13988
Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973
The Age Discrimination Act of 1975
Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (to the extent that it applies, otherwise Section 504 and the Fair Housing Amendments govern)
The Equal Access to Housing in HUD Programs Regardless of Sexual Orientation or Gender Identity Final Rule, published in the Federal Register February 3, 2012 and further clarified in Notice PIH 2014-20
Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013 (VAWA)
When more than one civil rights law applies to a situation, the laws will be read and applied together.
Any applicable state laws or local ordinances and any legislation protecting individual rights of tenants, applicants, or staff that may subsequently be enacted will also apply.
2-I.B. NONDISCRIMINATION Federal regulations prohibit discrimination against certain protected classes and other groups of people. State and local requirements, as well as PHA policies, can prohibit discrimination based on other factors.
The PHA shall not discriminate because of race, color, sex, religion, familial status, age, disability or national origin (called “protected classes”) Familial status includes children under the age of 18 living with parents or legal custodians, pregnant women, and people securing custody of children under the age of 18.
The PHA will not discriminate on the basis of marital status, gender identity, or sexual orientation [FR Notice 02/03/12; Executive Order 13988].
GFHA Policy The GFHA does not identify any additional protected classes.
The PHA will not use any of these factors to:
Deny to any family the opportunity to apply for housing, nor deny to any qualified applicant the opportunity to participate in the housing choice voucher program
Provide housing that is different from that provided to others
Subject anyone to segregation or disparate treatment
Subject anyone to sexual harassment
Restrict anyone's access to any benefit enjoyed by others in connection with the housing program
Treat a person differently in determining eligibility or other requirements for admission
Steer an applicant or participant towardor away from a particular area based any of these factors
Deny anyone access to the same level of services
Deny anyone the opportunity to participate in a planning or advisory group that is an integral part of the housing program
Discriminate in the provision of residential real estate transactions
Discriminate against someone because they are related to or associated with a member of a protected class
Publish or cause to be published an advertisement or notice indicating the availability of housing that prefers or excludes persons who are members of a protected class
Providing Information to Families and Owners The PHA must take steps to ensure that families and owners are fully aware of all applicable civil rights laws. As part of the briefing process, the PHA must provide information to HCV applicant families about civil rights requirements and the opportunity to rent in a broad range of neighborhoods [24 CFR 982.301].The Housing Assistance Payments (HAP) contract informs owners of the requirement not to discriminate against any person because of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, familial status, or disability in connection with the contract.
Discrimination Complaints If an applicant or participant believes that any family member has been discriminated against by the PHA or an owner, the family should advise the PHA. The PHA should make every reasonable attempt to determine whether the applicant’s or participant’s assertions have merit and take any warranted corrective action. In addition, the PHA is required to provide the applicant or participant with information about how to file a discrimination complaint [24 CFR 982.304].
Upon receipt of a housing discrimination complaint, the PHA is required to:
Provide written notice of the complaint to those alleged and inform the complainant that such notice was made
Investigate the allegations and provide the complainant and those alleged with findings and either a proposed corrective action or an explanation of why corrective action is not warranted
Keep records of all complaints, investigations, notices, and corrective actions [Notice PIH 2014-20]
GFHA Policy Applicants or participants who believe that they have been subject to unlawful discrimination may notify the GFHA either orally or in writing. Within 10 business days of receiving the complaint, the GFHA will provide a written notice to those alleged to have violated the rule. The GFHA will also send a written notice to the complainant informing them that notice was sent to those alleged to have violated the rule, as well as information on how to complete and submit a housing discrimination complaint form to HUD’s Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity (FHEO). The GFHA will attempt to remedy discrimination complaints made against the GFHA and will conduct an investigation into all allegations of discrimination.
Within 10 business days following the conclusion of the GFHA's investigation, the GFHA will provide the complainant and those alleged to have violated the rule with findings and either a proposed corrective action plan or an explanation of why corrective action is not warranted. The GFHA will keep a record of all complaints, investigations, notices, and corrective actions. (See Chapter 16.)