HRC partners with local city agencies to provide information about service and support animals

Monday, November 28, 2016

(LOS ANGELES) — The Housing Rights Center (HRC) continues its fight against housing discrimination by partnering with local city agencies to provide necessary information about service and emotional support/assistance animals.

HRC partnered with the Los Angeles Animal Services and Housing and Community Investment Department to present a six-part series throughout the City of Los Angeles. Over 100 community members attended the presentations, titled “Pets in Rental Housing,” where they were informed of city regulations regarding pets in residential areas, as well as a comprehensive overview of the rights to service and support animals provided to persons with disabilities under the federal Fair Housing Act (FHA).

Under the FHA, persons with disabilities are afforded the right to reasonable accommodations or changes in rules/policies in order to allow them to fully use and enjoy their housing. A request for a service or support animal to live in rental housing would be considered a reasonable accommodation. Other examples include waiving an existing “No Pet” policy for tenants with mental or physical disabilities who require an animal for medical purposes, or waiving any additional pet fees that would be required for other tenants. Those interested in requesting an accommodation should be prepared to provide a letter from a doctor, therapist, or social worker confirming their disability and need for a medically necessary animal.

The presentations included examples of prohibited practices under the FHA that could be reported to the Housing Rights Center. Practices such as refusing to rent to a tenant who would require a medically necessary animal or charging additional fees in order to approve a request would be considered unlawful under the FHA. Unfortunately, this type of discrimination is commonly seen throughout communities in Southern California as our numbers continue to show disability discrimination as the most reported type of discrimination. 


HRC fights against unlawful practices in housing by providing free educational programs as well as enforcing federal and state fair housing laws throughout the Los Angeles and Ventura counties. Every year we assist over 20,000 community members with housing related concerns through our free counseling service. Individuals who believe they are victims of housing discrimination or who have questions about the fair housing laws may contact HRC for assistance at 1-800-477-5977 (voice), 213-201-0867 (TTY) or www.HousingRightsCenter.org.

Office locations are handicap accessible.

Veterans with Disabilities

Thursday, March 24, 2016

It is estimated that more than 500,000 U.S. veterans are living with disabilities as a result of service-related injuries and trauma. Many veterans have physical disabilities that interfere with important daily life activities like walking, hearing and seeing. Other veterans face mental health disabilities, such as depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), that  limit their ability to perform essential life functions.

Veterans with disabilities have the legal right to obtain housing that is free from discrimination and suited to meet their disability-related needs.

The federal Fair Housing Act (FHA) makes it illegal for landlords, managers and housing industry professionals to refuse to rent to veterans, provide veterans with different treatment or inferior services, or refuse to make reasonable accommodations (policy changes) or modifications (structural changes) at rental properties in order to allow veterans to fully use and enjoy their housing.

Examples of discrimination include not allowing a veteran with PTSD to have a service dog in a no-pet building, refusing to allow a veteran in a wheelchair to install a ramp leading to their front door, or denying a veteran the right to install flashing lights in place of a doorbell to accommodate a hearing impairment.

Other forms of discrimination include refusing to rent to a veteran because they disclose that they have a mental-health disability, or not accepting Social Security disability benefits or other veterans’ benefits as a valid source of income.

Under the FHA, newly built multifamily dwellings, such as duplexes, triplexes and apartment buildings, must be handicap accessible if their certificate of first occupancy is after March 13, 1991. This means that these properties must have accessible doors, accessible routes to and from the property, accessible common areas, and reinforced walls in bathrooms capable of being modified to suit disability related add-ons.

Veterans who believe they were denied housing or were refused the right to make accommodations and modifications to their housing, should contact the Housing Rights Center (HRC) at (800) 477-5977. HRC can investigate allegations of housing discrimination and help victims of discrimination enforce their fair housing rights.
 

HRC Helps Tenant Come Home for the Holidays

Tuesday, January 05, 2016

In 2015, HRC provided critical services to over 20,000 residents. 

For the Rivera family, HRC's services may have helped save the life of their very ill child.

The Rivera's Los Angeles rent controlled apartment was in poor condition when the family moved in 28 years earlier and had not received any updates since that time.

When their 15 year old son Osvaldo was diagnosed with high-risk acute lymphoblastic leukemia, he received several rounds of cancer fighting medications and ultimately was able to receive a bone marrow transplant - the combination of which detrimentally impacted his already weakened immune system making him susceptible to more illnesses. 

Due to the apartment's cockroach and rodent infestation, mold, dust, lack of hot water and general dilapidation, Osvaldo's health care provider would not release him from the hospital to return home.

A clinical social worker contacted HRC for assistance requesting a reasonable accommodation to have the owner make necessary repairs to their apartment, based on Osvaldo's disability.

The social worker stated that Osvaldo could not be discharged from the hospital because they would be discharging him to a "tremendously dangerous and life-threatening home environment." 

The property owner refused to make the repairs, even after Osvaldo's doctor confirmed that his severely compromised immune system would be very vulnerable to bacterial, viral, and fungal infections, and that an infection of this nature following a bone marrow transplant could be life-threatening.

The owner refused to make the apartment habitable - until HRC got involved.

The owner fixed the habitability issues by replacing the hot water heater, kitchen counter, sink and fixtures, applying fresh paint, re-tiling the floor, sealing holes and windows, and getting rid of the roach and vermin infestation.

Osvaldo was finally released from the hospital, and recently celebrated Christmas at home with his family.

HRC Helps Tenant Keep Housing and Therapy Dog

Friday, September 04, 2015

The Housing Rights Center recently assisted a tenant with disabilities in saving her housing and keeping her therapy dog.
 
The tenant, a female with mental disabilities, applied to live at the complaint property and in her rental application, stated that she would be living with her dog. Her application was subsequently approved and she moved into the apartment.

Approximately one month later, she was contacted by the property owner’s representative and was told she would have to remove her dog from the apartment due the building having a “no-pet” policy. The tenant informed the owner’s representative that her dog was not a pet, but was medically prescribed by her doctor for disability-related purposes. She also explained that she had listed her dog on the rental application to avoid any issues, since she could not live independently without her therapy dog.

The next day, the owner personally went to her apartment and served her with a notice threatening legal action if her dog was not removed from the premises.

Desperate and facing eviction, she contacted the Housing Rights Center for help.
 
The Housing Rights Center contacted the property owner by phone and mail, and requested that the tenant be allowed to keep her therapy animal in her apartment based on her disability. The Housing Rights Center explained to the property owner that disability-related animals were exempt from “no-pet” policies, and that denying her the right to live with her therapy animal would be considered illegal housing discrimination.

Shortly thereafter, the owner’s representative agreed to allow her to keep her therapy animal and not proceed with the eviction. The tenant confirmed with the Housing Rights Center that she was still living with her dog in her apartment without any further issue.

HUD Releases New Rule to Promote Fair Housing Compliance

Thursday, July 09, 2015

This week, our federal government took another important step to ensure the expansion of equal opportunity for all. The United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) released a much-anticipated and hard fought new rule to implement the long-standing provision of the Fair Housing Act intended to address the legacies of racial segregation, concentration of poverty, and the lack of public investment in areas of highly concentrated poverty across our nation. HUD’s Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) Final Rule provides local advocates, stakeholders, and jurisdictions with the critical tools and data they need to identify and address local barriers to fair housing and equal opportunity, and connect that analysis with their plans for allocating housing and community development resources.

The AFFH Final Rule clarifies and simplifies fair housing obligations that have been law for more than 40 years.  It empowers HUD recipient cities, counties, and states to analyze their fair housing landscape and set locally-determined fair housing priorities and goals through an Assessment of Fair Housing (AFH).  To aid communities in this work, HUD’s AFH tool provides open data on patterns of integration and segregation, racially and ethnically concentrated areas of poverty, disproportionate housing needs, and disparities in access to opportunity.  This improved approach facilitates robust community participation, and provides a better mechanism for HUD grantees to build fair housing goals into their existing housing and community development planning processes.

Access to a safe and affordable home near quality schools, transportation, and jobs is a premise basic to the American Dream and to our nation’s future. Unequal access to vital community resources results in unequal access to opportunity, and undermines our prosperity and success as a nation. Recent research has shown that one’s zip code is a more important factor than one’s genetics in determining life expectancy.

The final rule provides a tool to combat growing economic inequality. The economic gulf between rich and poor has grown at an unprecedented rate over the past several decades.  The foreclosure crisis, which disproportionately impacted African American and Latino communities, further contributed to the growth of an already overwhelming racial wealth gap. Sky high rents, a continuing housing crisis, and wage stagnation have made our country less equal than it was several years ago. The AFFH rule provides a framework that will help decision-makers use their housing and community development resources in a way that ensures fairness and equity for all. This, in turn, will help stem the growing trend of inequality.

Fair Housing Matters.Housing choice—especially for low-income communities and communities of color—is a critical component of an equitable and economically prosperous existence. When localities seek federal taxpayers’ funds to strengthen their communities, they must take specific steps to protect fair housing.  Localities must address discrimination and work towards toppling barriers to opportunity for all residents.  Those who seek federal taxpayers’ funds for housing and community development projects have an obligation to protect fair housing and expand opportunity for all.  This rule holds recipients of HUD funding accountable to that promise, while giving them the tools and information to do so.

For additional information on AFFH, HUD Exchange provides a one-stop-shop for training, technical assistance and guidance, and has a feature allowing stakeholders to register and submit questions.  Additional materials will be added to HUD Exchange on an ongoing basis. Publicly-oriented information is hosted on HUD.gov/AFFH.  

Individuals who believe they are victims of housing discrimination or who have questions about the fair housing laws may contact HRC for more information at 1-800-477-5977 (voice) or 213-201-0867 (TTY).