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Fair Housing Laws and the Transitional Housing Program (THP) - PLUS a training for housing providers.

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Presentation on theme: "Fair Housing Laws and the Transitional Housing Program (THP) - PLUS a training for housing providers."— Presentation transcript:

1 Fair Housing Laws and the Transitional Housing Program (THP) - PLUS a training for housing providers

2 (THP) - PLUS Providers Must Comply with Both California Landlord-Tenant Laws and State and Federal Fair Housing Laws California law is more strict than federal, providing greater protection

3 California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) Prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, marital status, national origin, ancestry, familial status, or disability of that person Prohibits asking potential tenants about any of the above characteristics

4 Disability Defined (in California) A mental or physical impairment that limits a major life activity –Major Life Activity includes: mental, physical and social activities, as well as working –Makes that particular activity difficult –Includes having a history of disability or being regarded as having a disability –Examples: depression, alcoholism, schizophrenia, blindness

5 Disability is Not: Current Drug Addiction Pyromania Kleptomania Sexual behavior disorder Compulsive gambling

6 Tricky but Important Distinction Disability –Current alcoholism –Past alcoholism –Past drug addiction Not a Disability –Current, illegal drug use

7 Discrimination & Disability race, color, religion, sex, national origin, family status and sexual orientation Mental and Physical Disability vs. Must treat everyone the same; no special treatment Must treat everyone the same, UNLESS that would effectively bar access

8 Kinds of Discrimination Intentional – “I don’t rent to people in wheelchairs” and “We don’t want any weirdos here” Disparate Impact –a policy or practice that effectively makes an opportunity less accessible for people with disabilities –Examples: no pets allowed, must come into office to apply

9 Other Forms of Discrimination Failure to grant reasonable accommodations Failure to meet physical and programmatic accessibility standards Failure to allow reasonable modifications

10 Reasonable Accommodation A change in rules, policies, or procedures to help an individual with a disability access housing or housing-related services –Make written documents available in large print –Exception to no pets rule to allow service animals –Waive “no bad credit” admission policy if credit problem is due to disability

11 Reasonable Accommodation, cont. Must be necessary to allow a person with a disability an equal opportunity for housing Complying with the request must not pose an undue administrative or financial burden, or fundamentally alter the nature of the program –Request should be initiated by person with disability –No limit to the number of requests made –May request verification of disability and need for accommodation – no details

12 Direct Threat Exception actual abuse or an actual threat of sufficient severity and probability that injury will actually occur provoking fear in others/making others uncomfortable, not grounds to deny housing provider must attempt a reasonable accommodation, unless he can show that no reasonable accommodation could have eliminated the threat

13 Confidentiality and Nosy Neighbors All information regarding disability from a tenant should be kept confidential –Tenants may authorize the release of information, preferably written Acceptable responses to inquiries from other residents/guests re: one person’s “special rules” –“Certain laws require us to do this.” –“Any resident needing an accommodation is welcome to request one, but everyone’s situation is confidential.” DO NOT DISCUSS anyone’s disability

14 Reasonable Modification A physical change to the structure to afford a person with a disability the housing opportunity –In a personal area, tenant pays Installing grab bars in shower –In a common area, provider pays Putting Braille numbers on the elevator

15 Questioning Applicants – Principal Concepts Can’t assume anything about a person’s ability to be a good tenant or guest based on disability Can’t make any assumptions regarding disability May inquire about tenancy-related matters

16 Questioning Applicants – Permissible Questions Have you ever been evicted? Will you pay your rent on time? What is your source/proof of income? What is your criminal history? Will you respect the rights of neighbors?

17 Questioning Applicants – Prohibited Questions Have you ever been hospitalized? Do you take medications? Do you drink? Do you have any disabilities? Are you capable of living alone?

18 Confidentiality In the Application Process Questions regarding disability for the purpose of providing supportive services should be asked separately from questions about housing.

19 Physical Program Accessibility Programs and activities, viewed in their entirety, must be accessible to people with disabilities –Unless it would impose an undue financial burden or fundamentally change the nature of the program Tips for accessibility –Portable ramps, grab bars in showers –Move activities into more accessible portion of building

20 Physical Accessibility Resources essibilityR.cfm

21 Supportive Services Requirement Requiring certain services for certain individuals is discriminatory General requirements of unspecified supportive services are acceptable

22 Employment Requirements Disparate impact on people with disabilities Possible reasonable accommodations: applying for SSI, searching for subsidized permanent housing

23 Required Chores If a person states he can not do a certain chore due to his disability, find an alternate chore If disability is such that no chore can be accomplished, chore requirement should be waived A person should not be denied housing because disability prevents him from doing a chore

24 Evictions in California State law prohibits “self-help” by landlord – may not just throw transitional resident out Must use the formal unlawful detainer process or The Transitional Housing Participant Misconduct Act

25 Unlawful Detainer Process 1)Notice a) 3-day notice – nonpayment of rent, lease violation, substantially interfered with other tenants, or materially damaged rental property b) 30- and 60- day notice – no-fault eviction 2)File Unlawful Detainer in Court a) length of time varies, usually about a month if not contested

26 Transitional Housing Participant Misconduct Act (THPMA) Enacted in 1991 to prevent recurrence of substantial disruption or violence in transitional housing programs May be used as an alternative to U/D process May only be used against “Participants”

27 A “PARTICIPANT” Must Have Been homeless prior to living in the program Signed contract with the program as a condition to getting housing, which included –the housing program’s rules, and –a copy of the Restatement of the Procedures and Rights created by the THMA (TH-210).

28 A Person is “Homeless” if: She previously lacked a regular and adequate nighttime residence or the most recent nighttime residence was –A supervised shelter, or –An institution providing temporary housing for individuals intended to be institutionalized, or –A place not designed or ordinarily used as sleeping accommodations for humans

29 Temporary Restraining Order Orders resident to stop abuse/misconduct –Must show great or irreparable harm would result if TRO were not granted before a hearing –Participant must have been in the program fewer than 6 months to initiate TRO –TRO lasts 5 days or until hearing

30 THMA As Eviction Substitute Participant may be ordered out if she violates TRO or Injunction (need court order) In limited circumstances, may get TRO or permanent order for participant to move out

31 Initial Orders To Move Out Immediately/Stay 200 Feet Away Must convince judge by clear and convincing evidence that participant engaged in abuse of program employee, another participant, or a person who lives within 100 feet of the program, and that great or irreparable injury will result if the order is not granted As a TRO, only available in an emergency to protect one of the above from imminent serious bodily injury

32 Permanent Orders/Injunctions After a hearing Lasts up to one year

33 Misconduct Must Be: Intentional breaking of program rules which substantially interferes with the program operator’s ability to run the housing program AND relates to specific forms of conduct

34 Misconduct and Abuse Misconduct Sale/use of drugs Theft, arson, destruction of another’s property Threats and actual violence and harassment Drunkenness* Abuse Attempts, threats and actual attacks, strikes or sexual assaults

35 Contact: Carey Stone Staff Attorney Mental Health Advocacy Services, Inc Wilshire Blvd., Ste. 902 Los Angeles, California (213) 389 – 2077 ext. 15


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