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Limited English Proficiency

Federal laws protect the rights of persons with limited English proficiency and require certain housing providers to provide language assistance.

Obligations of Housing Providers

Under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and in accordance with Supreme Court precedent in Lau v. Nichols, recipients of federal financial assistance are required to take reasonable steps to ensure meaningful access to their programs and activities by limited English proficient (LEP) persons. In accordance with Executive Order 13166, the meaningful access requirement of the Title VI regulations and the four-factor analysis set forth in the Department of Justice (DOJ) LEP Guidance apply to the programs and activities of federal agencies, including HUD.

In addition, EO 13166 directs each federal agency that provides financial assistance to non-federal entities to publish guidance on how their recipients can provide meaningful access to LEP individuals and thus comply with Title VI regulations forbidding funding recipients from restricting an individual in any way in the enjoyment of any advantage or privilege enjoyed by others receiving any service, financial aid, or other benefit under the program. On January 22, 2007, HUD published Guidance to Federal Financial Assistance Recipients Regarding Title VI Prohibition Against National Origin Discrimination Affecting Limited English Proficient Persons.

The Fair Housing Act prohibits national origin discrimination in both private and federally-assisted housing. For example, a housing provider may not impose less favorable terms or conditions on a group of residents of a certain national origin by taking advantage of their limited ability to read, write, speak or understand English.

Limited English Proficiency Initiative

The Limited English Proficiency Initiative provides funding for the creation and promotion of translated materials and other programs that support the assistance of persons with limited English proficiency in utilizing the services provided by the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Additional Resources

File a Complaint in a Language Other Than English
HUD’s 2021-2026 Language Access Plan
Interagency LEP Resources
HUD Guidance on LEP and the Fair Housing Act
HUD Guidance on LEP and Title VI
Limited English Proficiency FAQ
Executive Order 13166
HUD Translated Documents
Fair Housing Outreach Materials in English and Other Languages

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