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Tag: Fair Housing

CCDC COMMENTS TO HUD re Enforcement of Fair Housing Regulations

Below is our letter, please submit your own comments by MONDAY 10/15/18 at www.regulations.gov 

October 12, 2018

 

Office of the General Counsel, Rules Docket Clerk

US Department of Housing & Urban Development

451 Seventh Street, SW Room 10276

Washington, DC  20410-0001

 

Submitted electronically via www.regulations.gov

 

RE:  Docket No. FR-6123-A-01

 

To Whom It May Concern:

 

I am writing on behalf of the Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition (CCDC) in response to the Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking: AFFH Streamlining and Enhancements, published in the Federal Register on August 16, 2018.  CCDC is the largest statewide disability organization that is run by and for people with all types of disabilities (cross-disability).   We recently did a listening tour across Colorado.  We had eleven events and all but two were outside of the Denver metro area.  In every community housing emerged as the number one problem for people with disabilities.  While affordability is a problem for everyone in Colorado, people with disabilities deal with discrimination, safety, and habitability concerns as well.  Too often people with disabilities are terrified to report discrimination or unsafe conditions due to fear of retaliation.  ANY weakening of existing standards can be devastating to people with disabilities.  If anything, requirements for affirmatively furthering fair housing should be strengthened and enforcement should be enhanced. More than 50% of those considered “chronically homeless” in Denver have disabilities (both physical and psychiatric) according to rent point in time studies.

 

CCDC strongly supports HUD’s 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) regulation and we urge HUD not to revoke or rewrite it.   Rather, HUD should immediately resume implementation of the 2015 rule and dedicate the necessary department resources for effective implementation and enforcement of the rule. With AFFH compliance, we expect significant positive impacts on the communities we serve, and nearby communities whose interests intersect with ours.  Failure to enforce AFFH causes our most vulnerable members of the community to suffer in unsafe conditions and often leads to homelessness.  We find that as people become homeless, they are not able to escape and it soon becomes chronic.  American’s disabled deserve better than this.  Many of those suffering from housing discrimination are veterans that have served our country.  Our advocacy coordinator, who is a disabled veteran, reports that veterans who require reasonable accommodations often face housing discrimination.  This discrimination can increase the symptoms of their disabilities. Those that serve our country and acquired a disability as a result of their service deserve a housing agency that will enforce regulations created to assure fair treatment.

 

Historically, and despite the fair housing requirements of the 1968 Fair Housing Act, we have seen little improvement in the patterns of residential segregation and the resulting imbalances in community investment and inequities in access to jobs, education, transit and other life opportunities. We believe that the AFFH rule is the first significant step made toward real change and must be promptly reinstated for the following reasons:

 

 

 

 

 

  • The 2015 Rule Was the Result of Significant Resources

The 2015 rule represents a wait—far too long—of 47 years for clarity on the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing provisions of the 1968 Fair Housing Act.  The 2015 rule was the result of a massive use of federal resources, and at least 6 years of deliberation by HUD, along with significant input from a diverse array of stakeholders. Additionally, the rule was field tested in 74 jurisdictions.  The initiation of another rulemaking process would be a waste of HUD resources and the tax dollars of the American people. Rather than exhaust additional resources on rewriting the rule, HUD should use those resources to enforce the 2015 rule which was not sufficiently implemented by HUD.

 

  • Big Changes Take Time

Until the 2015 rule, jurisdictions around the nation operated at a status quo established in 1968 due to insufficient guidance and enforcement on the AFFH regulation. It often required legal actions by private citizens or organizations to compel jurisdictions to take meaningful steps to further fair housing. Understandably, it will therefore require some time for jurisdictions to adapt to new expectations. The 2015 rule was an investment in our nation’s commitment to Civil Rights, and like any big investment, the highest costs are upfront. HUD cannot retreat from the steps it took to address segregation, discrimination, and disinvestment.  American veterans and those with disabilities deserve better from our government.

 

In response to the 8 questions put forth by HUD in its ANPR, below are a few of the many reasons the 2015 rule should be reinstated:

 

Public Participation – The 2015 rule requires a level of community engagement that jurisdictions previously were not required to and did not employ. The new AFFH rule requires jurisdictions to design their public participation process to include people of all demographics and socioeconomic backgrounds, with a focus on those most impacted by segregation and inequitable community investment. This type of public participation is emblematic of the most basic principles of democracy and demonstrates a commitment to the values of democracy.

 

Data Collection – The 2015 rule ensures that community development decisions are rooted in an honest assessment of patterns of segregation, housing needs, and access to place-based opportunities. The HUD provided data offers a minimum standard of data collection that, when combined with local data and local input, allows for the sound development of measureable goals and benchmarks to move the needle on critical issues.  Decisions should be made using data, not rumors or blogs.

 

Goals & Metrics—The 2015 rule requires jurisdictions to define explicit goals and metrics to measure progress toward the goals developed. This is a foundational requirement of meaningful community planning and governance. Goals should be set, and progress should be measured on an annual basis. This greatly enhances the ability of HUD and community stakeholders to hold local jurisdictions accountable to timely goal implementation.   We measure what matters and AFFH must matter if we truly value all Americans.

 

Accountability – The 2015 rule creates requirements for HUD to review, approve of, and monitor Assessments of Fair Housing. This creates a strong incentive for jurisdictions to comply because the receipt of HUD funding is clearly tied to compliance with fair housing laws. These enhanced accountability measures will incentivize jurisdictions to comply with, and allow HUD to enforce, a 50-year-old federal legal requirement enacted into law by a democratically elected body of Congress.

 

For all of the reasons listed herein, and because our communities have long suffered unjust and immutable segregation and the resulting inequities in life outcomes, CCDC urges HUD to take immediate action to fully reinstate the 2015 rule and uphold its commitment to Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing.

 

Sincerely,

Julie Reiskin, Executive Director

Great info on Fair Housing Rights

City & County of Denver Source of Income Protection

In a win for housing consumers, Denver City Council voted on July 30, 2018 prohibit landlords from denying applicants based on their source of income. This decision most heavily impacts housing seekers with subsidized housing vouchers and/or disability income, though it certainly benefits all potential

renters. The Council’s stance on the issue was that if a prospective renter can afford the rent, their source of income shouldn’t inform the housing provider’s decision. Opponents of the measure feel that requiring landlords to accept non-conventional sources of income like federal vouchers will force landlords to absorb uncovered damage expenses and delayed rent payments. However, to high-rent property owners, the law is unlikely to affect their business as the renters in question would likely not qualify for their units. It’s also important to note that many other jurisdictions in the country have already enacted such protections. The new protection will take effect for the City and County of Denver on January 1, 2019.

To learn more about Denver’s Source of Income protection, click here.

Your reasonable accommodation has been denied. What’s next?

 

If you have requested a reasonable accommodation and supplied your housing provider with the

appropriate documentation (typically a doctor’s note), and the accommodation was denied, there are a couple things you can do:

  • Be proactive! Ask for a meeting with the housing provider to discuss why the accommodation was denied. In some cases, a housing provider can deny an accommodation if it would pose a significant financial and administrative burden or cause them to significantly alter their business practices. If this is the case, your housing provider should work with you to come up with an alternative that will meet your
  • If there is no alternative accommodation that will meet your needs, you may request to be released from your lease at no

If your housing provider denied your accommodation based on discrimination, or you have reason to believe this is the case, here are some tips for what you should do next:

  • Document, document, document! Always keep records of requests you make, emails you receive, text messages, voicemails, recordings, etc. These will help you if you file a complaint for housing discrimination, as you will need proof of the discriminatory
  • Call the Denver Metro Fair Housing Center at 720-279-4291. DMFHC has staff members ready to help you determine if discrimination occurred, can help you self-advocate or advocate on your behalf to obtain approval for your
  • If all else fails, and it’s apparent that your housing provider has acted in a discriminatory manner, DMFHC can assist you throughout the complaint

Emotional Support Animals

 

Under the Federal Fair Housing Act, there is no distinction between emotional support animals or service animals. Simply obtain a doctor’s note, or a note from another medical professional, that establishes a nexus between your disability and your need for the animal. Next, write a short letter stating that you wish to request a reasonable accommodation. Best practice is to mail the request via certified mail to your housing provider, along with a copy of the Joint Statement from HUD and the DOJ on Reasonable Accommodations Under the Fair Housing Act (link below). If your housing provider either ignores or denies your request, call DMFHC to discuss next steps.

If you are unsure if what you’re experiencing is disability discrimination, or just have more questions,

call DMFHC at 720-279-4291.

Click here for a copy of the Joint Statement from HUD and the DOJ on Reasonable Accommodations Under the Fair Housing Act.


Important Notice
CCDC’s employees and/or volunteers are NOT acting as your attorney. Responses you receive via electronic mail, phone, or in any other manner DO NOT create or constitute an attorney-client relationship between you and the Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition (CCDC), or any employee of, or other person associated with, CCDC. The only way an attorney-client relationship is established is if you have a signed retainer agreement with one of the CCDC Legal Program attorneys.

Information received from CCDC’s employees or volunteers, or from this site, should NOT be considered a substitute for the advice of a lawyer. www.ccdconline.org DOES NOT provide any legal advice, and you should consult with your own lawyer for legal advice. This website is a general service that provides information over the internet. The information contained on this site is general information and should not be construed as legal advice to be applied to any specific factual situation.

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