Fair Housing & Equal Opportunity
The Fair Housing Act
Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968, or the Fair Housing Act, protects individuals from discrimination in the rental, sale, and financing of housing and in other housing-related transactions. Under the Fair Housing Act, it is against the law for a housing provider to do any of the following because of a consumer’s race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status, or disability:
- Refuse to rent or sell housing
- Refuse to negotiate for the rental or sale of housing
- Make housing unavailable or deny that housing is available
- Set different terms, conditions or privileges for the sale or rental of housing
- Advertise in a discriminatory way
- Threaten, coerce, or intimidate anyone exercising fair housing rights
Assessment of Fair Housing
Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) is a legal requirement that federal agencies and federal grantees, such as the Chester County Department of Community Development (DCD), further the purposes of the Fair Housing Act. In addition to combating discrimination, AFFH requires these entities to overcome patterns of segregation and foster inclusive communities free from barriers that restrict access to opportunity based on protected characteristics as defined by Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and all related statutes.
In June 2017, DCD and the Housing Authority of Chester County (HACC), received approval for their joint Assessment of Fair Housing (AFH) from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The AFH Action Plan establishes housing goals and corresponding action items that will guide efforts to affirmatively further fair housing through 2022.
Fair Housing Resources
- HUD Brochure: Fair Housing: Equal Opportunity for All
- Fair Housing for Consumers Guide Book (en español)
- Reasonable Accommodations and Modifications
- Communicating with Persons with Disabilities
- Familial Status Discrimination
- Assistance Animals and No Pet Policies
- Know Your Rights as a Renter in Pennsylvania
- HUD LGBT Equal Access Rule
Fair Housing Complaints
Housing discrimination related to race, color, sex, national origin, religion, familial status, or disability is prohibited by Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968 (Federal Fair Housing Act); the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act adds the additional protected classes of age and ancestry. If you have unlawfully experienced housing discrimination, please contact DCD’s Fair Housing Officer, Shaun Bollig, at 610-344-6900 or one of the resources below:
Housing Equality Center of Pennsylvania
- Telephone: (866) 540-FAIR
- Telephone: (800) 669-9777 (or 800-927-9275 for TTY
Fair Housing Protections for People with DisabilitiesUnder the Fair Housing Act, a disability is defined as a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more of a person’s major life activities. Housing providers are required to make reasonable accommodations, which are changes in the rules, policies, practices, or services, when such accommodations may be necessary to afford a person with a disability an equal opportunity to use and enjoy a dwelling. A simple example of a reasonable accommodation would be to waive a "no pets" policy for a person with a disability who requires an assistance animal. The Fair Housing Act also requires housing providers to allow tenants to make reasonable modifications, or physical alterations, to their housing unit. Examples of reasonable modifications include installation of a wheelchair ramp or grab bars in the bathroom. Generally modifications are made at the tenant's expense, unless the housing receives HUD funding that requires the provider to bear the cost of reasonable modifications.
According to fair housing law, "reasonable" means that the request: 1) Does not cause an undue financial and administrative burden to the housing provider; 2) Does not cause a basic change in the nature of the housing program available; 3) Will not cause harm or damage to others; and 4) Is technologically possible.
Pennsylvania Human Relations ActThe Pennsylvania Human Relations Act provides additional protections by prohibiting discrimination on the basis of age (defined as over 40) and against handlers and trainers of assistance animals for people with disabilities. Additionally, many municipalities have enacted local anti-discrimination ordinances that ensure equal access to housing regardless of additional protected classes such as marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity, source of income, and other characteristics.
Title VIDCD complies with Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and all related statutes. Any person who believes that s/he has been unlawfully discriminated against in activities funded by DCD may file a formal complaint within 180 days following the date of the alleged incident.
For more information on DCD’s Title VI Program, obligations, procedures and/or to file a complaint, please contact Gene Suski at 610-344-6900.