Fair Housing

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					     Fair Housing Laws
and the Transitional Housing
  Program (THP) - PLUS

   a training for housing providers
(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
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
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
            Disability is Not:
•   Current Drug Addiction
•   Pyromania
•   Kleptomania
•   Sexual behavior disorder
•   Compulsive gambling
Tricky but Important Distinction
• Disability               • Not a Disability

   – Current alcoholism       – Current, illegal drug
   – Past alcoholism            use
   – Past drug addiction
    Discrimination & Disability
race, color, religion,          Mental and Physical
  sex, national origin,              Disability
  family status and       vs.
  sexual orientation

Must treat everyone the         Must treat everyone the
same; no special                same, UNLESS that
treatment                       would effectively bar
      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
  – Examples: no pets allowed, must come into
    office to apply
 Other Forms of Discrimination
• Failure to grant reasonable
• Failure to meet physical and
  programmatic accessibility standards
• Failure to allow reasonable modifications
   Reasonable Accommodation
• A change in rules, policies, or procedures
  to help an individual with a disability
  access housing or housing-related
  – Make written documents available in large print
  – Exception to no pets rule to allow service
  – Waive “no bad credit” admission policy if
    credit problem is due to disability
   Reasonable Accommodation,
• 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
       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
       Confidentiality and Nosy
• 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
     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
     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
• May inquire about tenancy-related
       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?
       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?
     Confidentiality In the
     Application Process
• Questions regarding disability for the
  purpose of providing supportive services
  should be asked separately from
  questions about housing.
 Physical Program Accessibility
• Programs and activities, viewed in their
  entirety, must be accessible to people with
   – 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
Physical Accessibility Resources
Supportive Services Requirement
• Requiring certain services for certain
  individuals is discriminatory
• General requirements of unspecified
  supportive services are acceptable
   Employment Requirements
• Disparate impact on people with
• Possible reasonable accommodations:
  applying for SSI, searching for
  subsidized permanent housing
            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
• A person should not be denied housing because
  disability prevents him from doing a chore
     Evictions in California
• State law prohibits “self-help” by landlord –
  may not just throw transitional resident out
• Must use the formal unlawful detainer process
• The Transitional Housing Participant
  Misconduct Act
    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
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
• May only be used against “Participants”
• Been homeless prior to living in the
• Signed contract with the program as a
  condition to getting housing, which
  – the housing program’s rules, and
  – a copy of the Restatement of the Procedures
    and Rights created by the THMA (TH-210).
    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
  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
  THMA As Eviction Substitute
• Participant may be ordered out if she
  violates TRO or Injunction (need court
• In limited circumstances, may get TRO
  or permanent order for participant to
  move out
  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
  Permanent Orders/Injunctions
• After a hearing
• Lasts up to one year
        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
         Misconduct and Abuse
        Misconduct                Abuse
•   Sale/use of drugs    • Attempts, threats
•   Theft, arson,          and actual attacks,
    destruction of         strikes or sexual
    another’s property     assaults
•   Threats and actual
    violence and
•   Drunkenness*
Carey Stone
Staff Attorney
Mental Health Advocacy Services, Inc.

3255 Wilshire Blvd., Ste. 902
Los Angeles, California 90010
(213) 389 – 2077 ext. 15

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