Refusal to rent to refugees
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced resolution after a unique Fair Housing Act violation was lodged in Pennsylvania against the Ecklin Group, alleging a refusal to rent to Burmese refugees.
Reaching a Conciliation Agreement, HUD says the company allegedly failed to renew the leases of three Burmese families because of their national origin, and made statements to various people that the group would no longer accept rental referrals for refugees that were referred by Lutheran Refugee Services. The company denied the allegation.
Three Burmese families were notified by the company that their leases were not being renewed because of alleged lease violations. HUD’s investigation showed that only the Burmese tenants received lease non-renewal letters, even though the company had similar concerns about other tenants. In addition, housing staff at the company told Lutheran Children and Family Services representatives and HUD investigators that the company would no longer rent to refugees.
Under the terms of the agreement, the company will donate $12,000 to Lutheran Refugee Services, provide fair housing training for all its employees, and include the phrase “Equal Housing Opportunity” or the fair housing logo in all newspaper and other rental advertisements, but continues to assert their innocence.
The Federal Fair Housing Act of 1968
The Federal Fair Housing Act, established in 1968, protects civil rights in housing and prohibits housing providers, including condominium associations, from denying housing to anyone based on \a person’s national origin, sex, race, religion, or color.
In 1988, disability (codified by the ADA in 1990) and familial status were both included, many states and local communities also have also included members of the military as a protected class, and now, the National Association of Realtors has amended the Code of Ethics to include protections for all sexual orientations. HUD, along with all HUD insured housing likewise announced that they will not discriminate against actual or perceived sexually identity, or orientation.
In HUD’s words, “The Fair Housing Act makes it unlawful for a housing provider to refuse to make a reasonable accommodation in its rules, policies, practices, or services when needed to provide persons with disabilities an equal opportunity to use or enjoy a dwelling.”
“America’s protection of refugees fleeing persecution from abroad includes ensuring protection against housing discrimination here,” said John Trasviña, HUD’s Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity. “HUD will continue to take action against housing providers that unlawfully deny housing to families because of their national origin.”