GFHA Administrative Plan for the Housing Choice Voucher Program
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Chapter 2: Fair Housing & Equal Opportunity
2-III.A. OVERVIEW Language for Limited English Proficiency Persons (LEP) can be a barrier to accessing important benefits or services, understanding and exercising important rights, complying with applicable responsibilities, or understanding other information provided by the HCV program. In certain circumstances, failure to ensure that LEP persons can effectively participate in or benefit from federally-assisted programs and activities may violate the prohibition under Title VI against discrimination on the basis of national origin. This part incorporates the Final Guidance to Federal Assistance Recipients Regarding Title VI Prohibition against National Origin Discrimination Affecting Limited English Proficient Persons, published January 22, 2007, in the Federal Register.
The GFHA will take affirmative steps to communicate with people who need services or information in a language other than English. These persons will be referred to as Persons with Limited English Proficiency (LEP).
LEP is defined as persons who do not speak English as their primary language and who have a limited ability to read, write, speak or understand English. For the purposes of this administrative plan, LEP persons are HCV applicants and participants, and parents and family members of applicants and participants.
In order to determine the level of access needed by LEP persons, the GFHA will balance the following four factors: (1) the number or proportion of LEP persons eligible to be served or likely to be encountered by the Housing Choice Voucher program; (2) the frequency with which LEP persons come into contact with the program; (3) the nature and importance of the program, activity, or service provided by the program to people’s lives; and (4) the resources available to the PHA and costs. Balancing these four factors will ensure meaningful access by LEP persons to critical services while not imposing undue burdens on the PHA.
2-III.B. ORAL INTERPRETATION The GFHA will offer competent interpretation services free of charge, upon request, to the LEP person.
GFHA Policy The GFHA will utilize a language line for telephone interpreter services.
When exercising the option to conduct remote briefings, informal reviews, or hearings, however, the GFHA will coordinate with a remote interpretation service which, when available, uses video conferencing technology rather than voice-only interpretation.
Where LEP persons desire, they will be permitted to use, at their own expense, an interpreter of their own choosing, in place of or as a supplement to the free services offered by the GFHA. The GFHA, at its discretion, may choose to use the language services even when LEP persons desire to use an interpreter of their choosing. The interpreter may be a family member or friend. If the interpreter chosen by the family is a minor, the GFHA will not rely on the minor to serve as the interpreter.
The GFHA will analyze the various kinds of contacts it has with the public, to assess language needs and decide what reasonable steps should be taken. “Reasonable steps” may not be reasonable where the costs imposed substantially exceed the benefits.
Where feasible and possible, according to its language assistance plan (LAP), the GFHA will train and hire bilingual staff to be available to act as interpreters and translators, will pool resources with other GFHA’s, and will standardize documents.
2-III.C. WRITTEN TRANSLATION Translation is the replacement of a written text from one language into an equivalent written text in another language.
GFHA Policy In order to comply with written-translation obligations, the GFHA will take the following steps: The GFHA will provide written translations of vital documents for each eligible LEP language group that constitutes 5 percent or 1,000 persons, whichever is less, of the population of persons eligible to be served or likely to be affected or encountered. Translation of other documents, if needed, can be provided orally; or If there are fewer than 50 persons in a language group that reaches the 5 percent trigger, the GFHA does not translate vital written materials, but provides written notice in the primary language of the LEP language group of the right to receive competent oral interpretation of those written materials, free of cost.
2-III.D. IMPLEMENTATION PLAN After completing the four-factor analysis and deciding what language assistance services are appropriate, the GFHA shall determine whether it is necessary to develop a written implementation plan to address the identified needs of the LEP populations it serves.
If the GFHA determines that it is not necessary to develop a written implementation plan, the absence of a written plan does not obviate the underlying obligation to ensure meaningful access by LEP persons to the GFHA’s Housing Choice Voucher program and services.
GFHA Policy If it is determined that the GFHA serves very few LEP persons, and the GFHA has very limited resources, the GFHA will not develop a written LEP plan, but will consider alternative ways to articulate in a reasonable manner a plan for providing meaningful access. Entities having significant contact with LEP persons, such as schools, grassroots and faith-based organizations, community groups, and groups working with new immigrants will be contacted for input into the process.
If the GFHA determines it is appropriate to develop a written LEP plan, the following five steps will be taken: (1) Identifying LEP individuals who need language assistance; (2) identifying language assistance measures; (3) training staff; (4) providing notice to LEP persons; and (5) monitoring and updating the LEP plan.
EXHIBIT 2-1: DEFINITION OF A PERSON WITH A DISABILITY UNDER FEDERAL CIVIL RIGHTS LAWS The following language is derived from 24 CFR Parts 8.3 and 100.201 A person with a disability, as defined under federal civil rights laws, is any person who:
Has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more of the major life activities of an individual, or
Has a record of such impairment, or
Is regarded as having such impairment
The phrase “physical or mental impairment” includes:
Any physiological disorder or condition, cosmetic or disfigurement, or anatomical loss affecting one or more of the following body systems: neurological; musculoskeletal; special sense organs; respiratory, including speech organs; cardiovascular; reproductive; digestive; genito-urinary; hemic and lymphatic; skin; and endocrine; or
Any mental or psychological disorder, such as mental retardation, organic brain syndrome, emotional or mental illness, and specific learning disabilities. The term “physical or mental impairment” includes, but is not limited to: such diseases and conditions as orthopedic, visual, speech and hearing impairments, cerebral palsy, autism, epilepsy, muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis, cancer, heart disease, diabetes, mental retardation, emotional illness, drug addiction and alcoholism.
“Major life activities” includes, but is not limited to, caring for oneself, performing manual tasks, walking, seeing, hearing, breathing, learning, and/or working.
“Has a record of such impairment” means has a history of, or has been misclassified as having, a mental or physical impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities.
“Is regarded as having an impairment” is defined as having a physical or mental impairment that does not substantially limit one or more major life activities but is treated by a public entity (such as the GFHA) as constituting such a limitation; has none of the impairments defined in this section but is treated by a public entity as having such an impairment; or has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, only as a result of the attitudes of others toward that impairment.
The definition of a person with disabilities does not include:
Current illegal drug users
People whose alcohol use interferes with the rights of others
Persons who objectively pose a direct threat or substantial risk of harm to others that cannot be controlled with a reasonable accommodation under the HCV program
The above definition of disability determines whether an applicant or participant is entitled to any of the protections of federal disability civil rights laws. Thus, a person who does not meet this disability is not entitled to a reasonable accommodation under federal civil rights and fair housing laws and regulations.
The HUD definition of a person with a disability is much narrower than the civil rights definition of disability. The HUD definition of a person with a disability is used for purposes of receiving the disabled family preference, the $400 elderly/disabled household deduction, the $480 dependent deduction, the allowance for medical expenses, or the allowance for disability assistance expenses.
The definition of a person with a disability for purposes of granting a reasonable accommodation request is much broader than the HUD definition of disability. Many people will not qualify as a disabled person under the HCV program, yet an accommodation is needed to provide equal opportunity.