National Housing Law Project: Tenant Resources During a Pandemic

NHLP

The National Housing Law Project (NHLP) has assembled a list of tools and resources for homeowners, tenants, and advocates seeking to preserve housing stability and protect civil rights during the COVID-19 Pandemic and economic crisis.

Visit NHLP’s current campaign information here


Protecting Renter and Homeowner Rights During Our National Health Crisis

The National Housing Law Project has put together the following resources for attorneys, advocates, policymakers, and others for assistance during the COVID-19 national public health crisis.  We will continue to update this with NHLP resources and other resources as they become available. Please email us with any additional resources to post.

 

Sexual Harassment In Housing Initiative

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, May 4, 2020

DOJ Increases Efforts to Combat Sexual Harassment in Housing During COVID-19 Pandemic

BOISE – U.S. Attorney Bart M. Davis is asking anyone who has witnessed or experienced sexual harassment by a landlord, property manager, maintenance worker, or anyone with control over housing to report that conduct to the Department of Justice.

The COVID-19 Pandemic has impacted the ability of many people to pay rent on time and has increased housing insecurity. The Department of Justice has heard reports of housing providers trying to exploit the crisis to sexually harass tenants. Sexual harassment in housing is illegal, and the Department of Justice stands ready to investigate such allegations and pursue enforcement actions where appropriate.

“While most landlords respond with understanding and care, trying to work with their tenants to weather the crisis, there are national reports of other landlords who have demanded sexual favors to defer rent payments. Although unaware of any reports locally, I emphasize this behavior will not be tolerated at any time, especially now,” said U.S. Attorney Davis. “The Department of Justice has not hesitated to intervene when clear misconduct occurs.” The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Idaho will work closely with state and local partners to identify incidents of sexual harassment in housing.

The Justice Department’s Sexual Harassment in Housing Initiative is an effort to combat sexual harassment in housing led by the Civil Rights Division, in coordination with U.S. Attorney’s Offices across the country. The goal of the Initiative is to address sexual harassment by landlords, property managers, maintenance workers, loan officers or other people who have control over housing.

Launched in 2017, the Initiative has filed lawsuits across the county alleging a pattern or practice of sexual harassment in housing and recovered millions of dollars in damages for harassment victims. The Justice Department’s investigations frequently uncover sexual harassment that has been ongoing for years. Many individuals do not know that being sexually harassed by a housing provider can violate federal law or that the Department of Justice may be able to help.

The Department of Justice, through the Civil Rights Division and the U.S. Attorney’s Offices, enforces the Fair Housing Act, which prohibits discrimination in housing on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, familial status, national origin, and disability. Sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination prohibited by the Act.

The Department encourages anyone who has experienced sexual harassment in housing, or knows someone who has, to contact the Civil Rights Division by calling (844) 380-6178 or emailing .

Individuals who believe they may have been victims of discrimination may also contact the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Idaho by calling (208) 334-1211 or emailing .

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Why Economic Developers Hope That “Fair Housing Still Has a Chance Under Trump”

The most recent State of Idaho Assessment of Fair Housing takes an ‘Economic Opportunity Approach’ to what is traditionally perceived as a civil rights issue affecting minority populations and other protected classes. An excerpt follows:

“This study approaches the analysis of fair housing issues through an “opportunity lens.” This was done to:

  • Incorporate recent research that links long‐term economic gains of cities and states to advancing economic growth of residents,
  • Incorporate the latest legal developments around fair housing, and
  • Most importantly, identify where the Grantees can best intervene to improve the economic opportunities of residents and, ultimately the fiscal health, of non‐entitlement communities.”

In other words, the report shows that the overall economic health and stability of a city or state depend on the economic opportunities of all residents. When everyone can access safe, quality housing within their household budget and close to employment or other services, they have more time, energy and income to invest in neighborhoods and communities. At the same time, they are less dependent on public assistance or other social services.

Housing choice (the right to determine where we live and can afford) and stability are essential components in the development of social capital, sometimes defined as “the networks of relationships among people who live and work in a particular society, enabling that society to function effectively.”

When individuals and families feel part of a neighborhood or community, they are better able to form trusting relationships and cultivate connections that can lead to opportunities—whether in employment, education, health care or personal growth and development. From the perspective of those who stress personal responsibility and self-reliance, housing choice (aka, ‘Fair Housing’) should be seen as the best investment, hands down.

For an informative and riveting history of the origin and reason for the Fair Housing Act, this 2015 podcast from This American Life and ProPublica is one of the best introductions around. For those short on time, Act Two is particularly fascinating.

The Slate article linked below contemplates the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing  (AFFH) rule and how it may fare moving forward under a new administration. The AFFH rule is intended to implement the core mission of the Fair Housing Act—to increase access to economic and social opportunities through something called housing choice. Where we live determines access to essential services and resources: clean air and water, healthy food, education, employment, police and fire protection, banking and lending, health care—even things like culture and recreation.

“An important rule, enacted late in the Obama administration, is just starting to knock down barriers in some of America’s most segregated places.”

The Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (or AFFH) rule, promulgated by President Barack Obama’s Department of Housing and Urban Development in 2015, marked the first forward momentum for the Fair Housing Act in decades. The rule required jurisdictions that receive federal housing funding to not only document barriers to integration and opportunity, but to detail—and prioritize—policies to eradicate them.

Read more here: Fair Housing Still Has a Chance Under Trump

 

2017 Training Opportunities

Fair Housing Accessibility FIRST Design and Construction Training—March 14th

This HUD-sponsored training is geared mainly towards architects, builders, developers and building officials.

  • Design & Construction Requirements of the Fair Housing Act Technical Overview—Module 10: Part I
  • Design & Construction Requirements of the Fair Housing Act Technical Overview—Module 10: Part II
  • Strategies for Compliant Bathrooms —Module 6
  • Common Design & Construction Violations & Solutions—Module 9

When
March 14th, 2017
7:15am – 3:30pm

Where
Boise City Hall Council Chambers
150 N. Capitol Blvd
Boise, ID 83702
1-208-334-1990
(HUD’s Boise field office)

Regional Live Streaming Locations (for those interested in CEU credits):

Webcast link: click here.

Registration
http://fhafirst.eventbrite.com

Event Information
Submit requests for reasonable accommodations and questions to:

1-312-913-1717 x 248

CEU Credits
*This program is registered with the American Institute of Architects. Architects will receive up to 6 continuing education HSW credits.

NEW!—Fair Housing Accessibility FIRST Flier Boise (requires Acrobat Reader)

HUD/FHEO Basic Fair Housing Webinars

Housing owners, property managers, renters, housing advocates – learn the basics of the Federal Fair Housing Act, with more in depth discussion on issues such as disability, family status, sexual orientation and domestic violence. This knowledge is not only critical to prevent costly violations, it’s also good business! This training will be held as a Live Webinar, with the video presentation conducted online and audio conducted using a telephone conference line. Log-in and call-in information will be emailed to registrants the day prior to the training date.

The times listed are PACIFIC time. Training is Free. Questions? Contact Kristina Miller at 206-220-5328 or

Click on the dates below to visit the registration page: