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Home>Section 8 Participants>Information for Program Participants>Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity
FAIR HOUSING & EQUAL OPPORTUNITY
It is important to understand the basic rights provided to you under Fair Housing laws. The idea is simple: everyone has the right to live anywhere he/she wants (and can afford) to live. Fair Housing laws apply to both individuals and families whether they are Voucher Holders or not.
There are different laws that protect you from discrimination based on the following:
While all property owners must adhere to Fair Housing Laws, these laws do not require an owner to rent to anyone. Owners have the right to screen applicants based on legal guidelines and procedures. Some owners may require you to go through a formal screening process that may include:
- Checking credit history and references
- Conducting a criminal background check
- Reviewing previous rental history
- Filling out an application form
- Making home visits
Fair Housing Laws require an owner to treat all applicants the same. For example, if an owner conducts home visits as a part of the screening process, the owner must conduct home visits for every applicant. If the screening uncovers information that indicates that you may not pay the rent on time or that you may damage the property, then the owner does not have to accept you as a tenant.
Under the Fair Housing Act, it is against the law for owners or property managers to:
- Refuse to rent or negotiate because of a person’s protected status
- Impose different terms or conditions because of a person’s protected status
- Make discriminatory statements or publish discriminatory communications
- Lie about the availability of a dwelling because of a person’s protected status
- Coerce or intimidate an applicant who has filed a fair housing complaint
- Steer” applicants (Illegally guide renters to a particular area based on the ‘makeup’ of the building or neighborhood)
For more information on Fair Housing, click here.
When you apply for Section 8 assistance you are required to sign a consent form called the Authorization for the Release of Information/Privacy Act Notice. By signing this form, you authorize HUD and CHA to request income information from the identified sources listed on the form.
This information will be used to verify your household ‘s income, to ensure that you are eligible for assistance, and to ensure that you receive the correct amount of assistance. CHA may utilize computer matching programs with these sources to verify your eligibility and to determine the amount of your assistance.
A reasonable accommodation is a change to a policy or procedure that ensures people with disabilities have equal access to CHAs program. A request for reasonable accommodation must be directly related to the disability and must not cause CHA to waive essential program regulations or impose an undue administrative and financial burden to CHA. CHA is required to consider all requests but is not obligated to approve every request. If a family wishes to request an accommodation, they may do so at any time, including during initial application, while they live in a unit subsidized by the CHA, and even during termination procedures.
Examples of some reasonable accommodation requests include, but are not limited to:
- Assistance when filling out forms for the CHA
- Granting extended time for finding appropriate housing (voucher extension).
- Approving an additional bedroom in a unit for a live-in aide.
How to Make a Request
To request an accommodation, you simply need to make CHA aware of your request. This may be done in writing. CHA will need a release, consent, or other related form to be signed by you in order to verify the requested accommodation. However, CHA will assist you in completing any forms we may need.
Once you submit a request to CHA, the request will be reviewed and a decision will be rendered within a reasonable time and typically within 30 days. If additional information is required or information essential to a decision is missing, it will take additional time to come to a decision, and you may be contacted to provide the necessary information. Such information may include certification from a knowledgeable professional (i.e. physician, nurse, psychiatrist, etc.) about your disability or the need for the accommodation.
Reasonable Accommodation with Landlord
Most owners and property managers are covered by some of the same laws that CHA abides by, so they also must consider reasonable accommodation requests. Owners and property managers may have different processes for considering requests. They must consider your request for accommodations even if you do not “look like” you have a disability. Common types of reasonable accommodations might include asking for an assistance or service animal when the owner has a no pets policy or asking for a physical modification to your unit.
What do I do if I need a physical modification in order to rent an apartment?
Some people with disabilities may require structural changes to their housing in order to access it. Examples of reasonable modifications that can be made to a unit or building are:
- Installation of ramps or motorized lifts.
- Placing flashing strobe lights to alert people with sensory impairments of the doorbell or fire alarm.
- Installing protective plastic on walls to prevent damage from wheelchairs.
By law, owners must allow a modification to be made to their property if:
- You pay for the modifications.
- The modifications do not fundamentally alter their business goals or purposes.
- The modifications do not cause undue administrative burden.
- The modifications do not violate the terms of your lease or their contract with the MDHCV.
Owners have the right to approve the work that needs to be done to make the unit or building accessible. When you move from the unit or building, they may require that the unit/building is left in the same condition as it was when you first leased it. An example may be that grab bars that were installed for your use need to be removed and the walls might have to be patched and painted.
TRANSLATION AND INTERPRETER SERVICES
A limited English proficient (LEP) person does not speak English as their primary language and has limited ability to read, write, or understand English at a level that permits the person to effectively communicate in the course of applying for or receiving services or benefits.
Participants with disabilities and those who have limited English proficiency can request translation and interpreter services (including sign language) for CHA-related business. CHA can make documents available in other languages and large print. To request translation and interpreter services, contact the CHA office.
VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN ACT (VAWA)
The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) provides special protections for victims of domestic violence, dating violence sexual assault, and stalking who are applying for or receiving assistance under the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program. VAWA protections are not only available to women, but are available equally to all individuals regardless of sex, gender identity, or sexual orientation.
Protections for Applicants
If you otherwise qualify for assistance under Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program, you cannot be denied admission or denied assistance because you are or have been a victim of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking.
Protections for Tenants
If you are receiving assistance under Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program, you may not be denied assistance, terminated from participation, or be evicted from your rental housing because you are or have been a victim of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking.
For more information on Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), click here.
Before you sign any documents, make sure that you read them thoroughly and that you understand them. If you do not understand something on the application or forms, always ask questions.