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Fair Housing in Texas

The Texas Department of Agriculture (TDA) and the Texas Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program are committed to affirmatively furthering Fair Housing in conjunction with the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs (TDHCA).

Affirmatively furthering Fair Housing is a requirement of the CDBG program and TDA requires units of general local governments applying for CDBG funds to affirmatively further Fair Housing.

 

Governor Abbot proclaims April 2017 as Fair Housing Month in Texas

Click here to view the proclamation.

What Is the Federal Fair Housing Act and Whom Does it Protect?

The Federal Fair Housing Act refers to Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968 (www.justice.gov). This Act, in addition to the Texas Fair Housing Act (www.statutes.legis.state.tx.us), protects your right to rent an apartment, buy a home, obtain a mortgage, or purchase homeowners insurance free from discrimination based on Race, Color, National Origin, Religion, Sex, Familial Status, and Disability.  HUD, in its proposed 2013 rule on Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing, states that in its belief the Fair Housing Act has two main goals: 1) ending housing discrimination; and 2) promoting diverse, inclusive communities. Read the proposed rule and view the proposed tool for local jurisdictions (www.huduser.org) or access HUD's Fair Housing Planning Guide (PDF) (hud.gov) to learn more about HUD's goals to eliminate segregation and discriminatory practices in programs administered with its funds.

 

Fair Housing for Elected Officials and Local Governments

The Fair Housing Act prohibits a broad range of practices that discriminate against individuals on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, familial status, and disability. The Act does not pre-empt local zoning laws; however, the Act applies to municipalities and other local government entities and prohibits them from making zoning or land use decisions or policies that exclude or discriminate against protected persons.

To view Questions and Answers on the Fair Housing Act and Zoning, visit the Joint Statement of the DOJ and the HUD on Group Homes, Local Land Use, and the Fair Housing Act (www.justice.gov).

 

How can my community Affirmatively Further Fair Housing?

In addition to prohibiting discrimination on the basis of protected classes, recipients of HUD funding must “Affirmatively Further Fair Housing.”   Some suggested ideas for meeting the CDBG program requirement to Affirmatively Further Fair Housing are:

·       Conduct a community-wide housing analysis to determine impediments to fair housing and implement actions to eliminate these impediments.

·       If the Grant Recipient is a city, pass a fair housing ordinance. It is important that the ordinance include a penalty clause. Also, publicize the existence of such an ordinance (e.g., newspaper advertisement, or fliers enclosed in utility bills). Grant Recipients should consult with their county/city attorney or contact the applicable trade association (TAC or TML) for a sample fair housing ordinance.

·       If the Grant Recipient is a county, adopt written fair housing policies and procedures that are equivalent to a fair housing ordinance and publicize the existence of the policies/procedures (e.g., newspaper advertisement). A sample fair housing policy may be obtained from TxCDBG.

·       Sponsor or fund fair housing counseling/referral services for owners and renters.

·       Have a written local complaint and monitoring process and notify the public of its existence through newspaper advertisements, or through notices in utility statements.

·       Promote housing opportunities outside historically minority and/or low and moderate-income neighborhoods.

·       Designate April or any other month as "Fair Housing Month" by proclamation along with another sponsoring activity.

·       Utilize local businesses and banking institutions to promote fair housing by displaying fair housing posters.

·       Announce the Grant Recipient's support of fair housing by means of newspaper advertisements, marquis displays, or public service announcements.

·       Conduct free training workshops on fair housing laws to homebuyers, rental property owners, and tenant organizations.

·       Sponsor a poster contest or essay writing contest at local schools to educate and promote fair housing.

·       Review local zoning laws and procedures to determine whether they contribute to, or detract from, fair housing choice.

·       Find ways to inform builders and architects as early as possible in the project design phase, but certainly no later than the issuance of a building permit, of the need to comply with the accessibility requirements of the Fair Housing Act.

 

How can my community address Limited English Proficiency requirements?

DOJ has provided a "safe harbor" for Limited English Proficiency ("LEP") enforcement. A safe harbor is guidance that identifies actions that will be considered strong evidence of compliance.

The table below sets forth safe harbors for written translations.

Size of Language Group

Recommended Provision of Written Language Assistance

1,000 or more in the eligible population in the market area or among current beneficiaries

Translated vital documents

More than 5% of the eligible population or beneficiaries and more than 50 in number

Translated vital documents

More than 5% of the eligible population or beneficiaries and 50 or less in number

Translated written notice of right to receive free oral interpretation of documents.

5% or less of the eligible population or beneficiaries and less than 1,000 in number

No written translation is required.

To assist recipients in meeting these requirements, HUD has issued several general document translations on the HUD LEP website (hud.gov).

 


If You Believe Your Rights Have Been Violated

Filing a Complaint in the State of Texas

The Texas Workforce Commission ("TWC") is the entity responsible for enforcing the Fair Housing Act in the State of Texas. You have one year after an alleged violation to file a complaint, but you should file it as soon as possible. Complaints can also be made directly to HUD.  Complaints can be filed by email, fax, phone call, hand delivery or mail:

Texas Workforce Commission
Civil Rights Division
1117 Trinity Street, Room 144-T
Austin, Texas 78701
(888) 452-4778 or (512) 463-2642
TTY: 512-371-7473
Fax: 512-463-2643
HousingComplaints@twc.state.tx.us

Download the TWC Complaint Form (www.twc.state.tx.us).

U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development

 

More details regarding Fair Housing in Texas and the Fair Housing Act may be found on the TDHCA website at the following link: http://www.tdhca.state.tx.us/fair-housing/index.htm