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Housing Search Assistance - Welfare to Work Vouchers

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 -   Discrimination in Housing Search
 -   Conducting Discrimination Briefings
 -   Responding to Discrimination

Discrimination in Housing Search

State and federal laws make it illegal for owners and managers of rental properties to deny a unit to a prospective renter based on race, color, religion, national origin, sex, handicap, age, or familial status. Some state and local ordinances also prohibit discrimination on the basis of military discharge, source of income, or other factors. The primary forms of discriminatory practice in housing search are:
 -   Denial of access (i.e., by discouraging applications)

 -   Denial of availability

 -   Inconsistent terms and conditions between applicants

 -   Geographical steering

Conducting Discrimination Briefings

The first step in helping families avoid discrimination is to educate them on discriminatory practices. Families must be able to identify potential discrimination and should know the steps necessary to counteract discrimination. PHAs should contact their local fair housing organization, as they often conduct training seminars free of charge. The briefing should:
 -   Inform families of their right to choose a unit in any neighborhood within or outside the PHA's jurisdiction

 -   Outline all federal, state, and local laws prohibiting discrimination in the rental housing market, as well as the procedures to be followed in the event that discrimination does occur

The PHA must provide the family with information on how to fill out and file a housing discrimination complaint. Having this information does not guarantee, however, that families will choose to take action if they encounter discrimination.

Responding to Discrimination

PHA and partner staff should encourage families to contact them immediately if they feel that they may have been discriminated against, even if they are unsure or finally decide not to file a complaint. When families suspect discrimination, they should:
 -   Avoid direct confrontation with the landlord, manager, or real estate agency, being careful not to make threats of suit or reveal suspicions of discrimination

 -   Contact PHA or partner staff right away with detailed information about the place, time, and people involved, and on what basis they suspect that discrimination occurred

After reviewing the information, PHA or partner staff should seek the assistance of an experienced fair housing agency to clarify additional information that may be necessary and what next steps should be taken. Next steps for the fair housing agency may include:
 -   Contacting the landlord or manager to clarify the situation

 -   Providing additional help to investigate the complaints with trained testers

 -   Seeking conciliation through direct negotiations with the landlord or manager

 -   Filing a formal complaint with the appropriate federal, state, or local agency

 -   Getting the help of an attorney to file a suit in federal court

Above all, families should know that assistance is available and that there are many courses of action if they are denied their rights.

For more information on housing discrimination, including HUD's online housing discrimination compliant form and a listing of HUD's Fair Housing Hubs, visit HUD's housing discrimination home page:

 -   http://www.hud.gov/complaints/housediscrim.cfm
Content current as of 3 February 2006   Follow this link to go  Back to top   
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