Boise City Council member Lisa Sanchez welcomed a roomful of housing providers, city and state staff, and local nonprofits on April 26 to a fair housing workshop presented by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Attendance was estimated at well over 200, with in-person and individuals watching via webcast throughout Idaho. This is the last workshop during April, where many different groups recognized the 50th Anniversary of the signing of the Fair Housing Act.
HUD’s Deputy Northwest Regional Administrator Michael Look kicked off the day by thanking attendees for their time and interest before outlining the history and meaning of the Fair Housing Act, its roots in the U.S. Constitution, and acknowledging those who made it possible. He introduced HUD’s last remaining Idaho field office representative, Senior Management Analyst Brian Dale
Mr. Look emphasized that the economic opportunities made possible through housing choice and mobility go beyond the typical civil rights focus of fair housing. Where we live determines our access to essential community services, social capital and basic amenities. He acknowledged the rights and challenges of housing providers, and his hope that through ongoing training and greater awareness, they could all take steps to avoid violations and associated costs.*
Kristina Miller with the Seattle Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity conducted the day’s training, starting with an overview of fair housing basics, protected classes, prohibited actions , disparate impact and the three-step analysis of policies or practices to determine compliance. She also outlined seven fair housing design and construction standards, and the importance of accommodating our aging population—which applies to everyone.
The main point of fair housing is ‘equal access’ for all.
She also touched on recent HUD guidance on criminal history; that is, if the property involved is covered under the Fair Housing Act, they must maintain and follow a clear criminal background policy that otherwise treats all protected classes the same consideration. A *three-step analysis determines whether a policy has discriminatory effect:
- Does the policy result in a discriminatory effect on members of a protected class?
- Does the policy achieve a specific, legitimate nondisriminatory interest to the provider?
- If yes to #2, is there a less discriminatory alternative to achieve the same effect?
- A blanket ban on criminal activity or an arrest record; unless there is a conviction, anyone could be banned without legitimate cause, thus it would be unjustifiable.
- A blanket ban on all convictions that fails to differentiate between a legitimate threat to life, safety or property or no threat may also be unjustifiable.
View or download the presentation as a .pdf — Fair-Housing-Act-for-4-26-18-presentations
Check back for links to the webcast version.