4CHA conducts its business in accordance with the Federal Fair Housing Law and the City of Columbia Fair Housing Ordinances.
The U.S. Fair Housing Amendments act of 1988 makes it illegal to discriminate against any person because of race, religion, sex, color, national origin, age, disability, familial status, gender identity, sexual orientation or marital status (coverage includes private housing, housing that receives Federal financial assistance, and State and local government housing).
In addition, The Violence Against Women and Justice Department Reauthorization Act of 2005 (“VAWA”) protects qualified tenants, participants, and applicants, and family members of tenants, participants, and applicants, who are victims of domestic violence, dating violence, or stalking from being denied housing assistance, evicted, or terminated from housing assistance based on acts of such violence against them.
In the sale and rental of housing, no one may take any of the following actions based on race, color, religion, sex, handicap (disability), familial status, national origin, gender identity, sexual orientation or marital status:
In addition, it is illegal for anyone to threaten, coerce, intimidate, or interfere with anyone exercising a fair housing right or assisting others who exercise that right.
However, housing need not be made available to a person who is a direct threat to the health or safety of others or who currently uses illegal drugs.
Example: A building with a “no pets” policy must allow a visually impaired tenant to keep a guide dog.
Example: An apartment complex that offers tenants ample, unassigned parking must honor a request from a mobility-impaired tenant for a reserved space near her apartment if necessary to assure that she can have barrier-free access to her home.
Unless a building or community qualifies as housing for older persons, it may not discriminate based on familial status. That is, it may not discriminate against families in which one or more children under 18 live with:
Familial status protection also applies to pregnant women and anyone securing legal custody of a child under 18.
Exemption: Housing for older persons is exempt from the prohibition against familial status discrimination if:
The U.S. Dept. of Housing & Urban Development (HUD) is ready to help with any problem of housing discrimination. If you think your rights have been violated, there are several ways to file a complaint:
You can write a letter to HUD with:
You have one year after an alleged violation to file a complaint with HUD, but you should file it as soon as possible.
HUD’s Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity Website has more information regarding illegal discrimination in housing.
The purpose of the fair housing laws is to prevent discrimination on the basis of a person’s membership in a protected class. Nothing in the law forbids you from setting fair screening guidelines and applying them equally to all applicants.
Keep in mind that every person belongs to a protected class – each of us can be defined in terms of our race, color, religion, sex, handicap (disability), familial status, national origin, sexual orientation, source of income, age, or marital status. So any time you deny an applicant, you deny someone who belongs to a protected class. The question is whether or not you treat applicants (or tenants) adversely because of the class to which they belong. If the criteria you set are blind to class issues, and you apply them consistently, you may turn down applicants who do not measure up.
The key lies in making sure your process is fair – that it neither directly nor indirectly discriminates on the basis of one of the protected classes. To comply, you should design a fair process and apply it consistently and equally to all applicants.
There is nothing illegal about setting fair criteria and holding all applicants to the same standards. By the consistent use of such guidelines you can retain full and appropriate control over who lives in your rental units and who does not.
As you study the letter of the law, keep its spirit in mind as well. The sooner we remove the types of discrimination that weaken our communities, the sooner we can build a stronger, more equitable society.
The Section 8 Waiting List is now open!
See details here
CHA provides housing assistance to over 1,900 families in Columbia and Boone County.
Families pay 30% of their adjusted household income for rent.
Our Family Self-Sufficiency Programs help families develop five-year plans for self-sufficiency.
201 Switzler St.
Columbia, MO 65201
(573) 443-2556 phone
(800) 735-2966 TTY Relay