Fair Housing Law – Advocacy Alert
TRUANCY IS NOT GROUNDS FOR EVICTION
BayLegal, along with six other public interest and legal services organizations, won an important victory for families living in public housing in Marin City. The Marin Housing Authority (MHA), which serves a low income and disproportionately minority population in one of the country’s wealthiest counties, was considering a policy to make truancy a lease violation — which could lead to the eviction of entire families upon MHA determining that a resident student was truant. This policy, which threatened to impose additional burdensome procedures and penalties on MHA resident families beyond those already imposed by California Education Code, would have had a disproportionate adverse impact on African American families in Marin County.
In a letter sent to MHA on October 10, BayLegal and the other groups raised these concerns, and explained the proposed policy violated residents’ constitutional rights along with important state and federal laws. After receiving our letter, MHA revised its policy to make it a voluntary program instead where the possibility of eviction is no longer an option, and it is now focused on incentives and rewards offered to parents for keeping their children in school. The County Board of Housing Commissioners adopted the revised policy, and this will help ensure a measure of justice for all MHA residents.
For more information on this matter, please contact David Levin, Esq. at 510-233-9954.
Leading the Way to End Housing Discrimination
BayLegal works to eliminate housing discrimination and to ensure equal housing opportunity for all people through advocacy, education and outreach. BayLegal represents people discriminated against in housing on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, gender, disability, sexual orientation, family status or other protected class.
BayLegal launches three new Fair Housing public service announcements produced by partner agency RYSE Youth Center of Richmond. Check them out here…
Fair Housing: Are You Being Discriminated Against?
It is illegal for a landlord to treat you unfairly because of reasons like: Race; National Origin; Religion; Gender; Sexual Orientation; Family Status; Disability; Age; Source of Income
You may have experienced housing discrimination if a landlord has:
* Discouraged you from looking at an apartment.
* Steered you to a different apartment complex.
* Made statements indicating a preference not to rent to you because of your race, marital status, age, disability, or because you have children.
* Told you that there are no vacancies when, in fact, there are.
* Refused to accommodate your disability.
* Imposed different rules for families with children.
* Retaliated against you with an eviction notice for objecting to being treated unfairly.
If you are a victim of housing discrimination, you can get help. Bay Area Legal Aid provides free legal help to qualified people with:
- Making complaints to government agencies;
- Investigating unfair treatment;
- Convincing landlords to follow the law; and
- Suing landlords in court, when necessary
What does fair housing mean to persons with disabilities?
Reasonable Accommodations/Reasonable Modifications
Fair housing laws give persons with disabilities protection from discrimination that they may encounter in housing related transactions, such as renting or buying a housing unit, obtaining mortgages or purchasing insurance. These laws also provides for accommodations and modifications that allow a disabled person equal access to services and housing.
What are “reasonable accommodations”?
Reasonable accommodations are changes in rules, policies, practices, and the way services are provided in order to ensure equal opportunity to fully enjoy one’s living unit. Examples of these changes would be waiving
parking and ‘visitors’ fees for a person who has a home care aid, designating a disabled parking spot in front of a building, giving an oral reminder when rent is due to someone whose disability affects their memory, or allowing service animals despite a ‘no pets’ rule. There are typically no costs associated with reasonable accommodations.
What are “reasonable modifications”?
Reasonable modifications are physical changes made to a dwelling or common area to make the space accessible. Examples of reasonable modifications would be implementing a ramp in front of the entrance of the building, adding a handle bar in the shower, installing an automatic shut-off water faucet for someone who has a disability that allows them to forget to turn off the water, or installing pictures or color coded signs to help a person who has a cognitive disability and has difficulty with written signs.
Who is responsible to pay for “reasonable modifications”?
Payment will depend of the type of housing and laws that apply to it. If the landlord receives federal funds she/he may be responsible for the modification as long as it does not produce a great financial or administrative hardship. If a landlord is only subject to the Fair Housing Act she/he may not have to pay for the changes that are requested. However, the FHA requires new multi-family housing built for first occupancy after March 13, 1991 be accessible. Therefore, each case will differ.
How do I prove that I have a disability without releasing too much information?
Generally, a landlord may not ask you if you have a disability. Also, you may not be asked for information about yourself that relates to your disability unless you are seeking housing that is designated for persons with disabilities. However, a landlord may ask for proof if you ask for a reasonable accommodation or modification. This proof that you need the accommodation can come from a doctor but does not have to disclose details of the disability nor medical history or records.
How do I get an accommodation or modification?
A person with a disability must request an accommodation. As a tenant, you are responsible to specify the type of accommodation or modification needed. You should make the request in writing and make sure to keep a copy for yourself.
Learn More About the Fair Housing Law by visiting the U.S. Department of Housing and Development at www.HUD.gov.