Section 8 Housing Developments and the Fair Housing Act
Section 8 Housing has evolved since its inception and there are several developments that have been made to the program. One such development is the Fair Housing Act of 1968 which protects citizens from any form of discrimination when buying, renting, or seeking financing for housing. The Fair Housing Act prohibits any discrimination based on color, color, religion, sex, disability, national origin, or presence of children. In some cases, the Fair Housing Act may not apply to private clubs, housing operated by organizations, single-family housings that are rented or sold without a broker, as well as owner-occupied buildings that have no more than four units.
With regards to sale or rental of housing, the Fair Housing Act specifies that no person should refuse to sell, rent, negotiate, or make available housing to another person based on handicap, sex, family, color, race, or religion status. The law also prohibits the landlords from setting different occupation terms to tenants or denying privileges to facilities of the housing. With respect to mortgage lending, the Fair Housing Act forbids anyone from refusing to provide information on mortgage loan, refusing to advance a mortgage loan, or setting different terms and conditions for loan on a discriminatory basis. Persons with a disability or families with handicap persons are also protected by this act in that the landlord may not prevent tenants from making modifications that are necessary for their condition. The rules of accommodation must also be reasonable and flexible enough to accommodate all persons with disability. Another provision of the Fair Housing Act is that tenants should not be discriminated based on familial status. Family status protection states that no family should be discriminated based on parenthood of the children. A child under 18 years qualifies to be a family member even if they live under legal custody or a designee parent. This protection applies for anyone who is in the process of getting custody for a child as well as pregnant women. Family status protection may not apply in some instances involving older persons for instance if the HUD secretary determines that Section 8 housing units are designed for elderly persons protected by federal, state or local organizations.
The Fair Housing Act and Filing a Complaint for Discrimination in the U.S.
Anyone whose rights have been violated can file a complaint through the Fair Housing Act for discrimination and appropriate action would be taken. Technological advancements have made complaint filing more convenient because individuals can file the complaints online at the HUD website. Any tenant whose civil rights have been violated can file a fair housing complaint online and afterwards the complaint will be reviewed by a specialist to determine if a Fair Housing Act violation has been committed. The specialist would reach the complainant for any clarifications regarding the case and if a possible violation is established then the specialist will assist in filing an official housing discrimination complaint. Information provided in the complaint form is used for investigations and it may be submitted to the U.S Department of Justice for other purposes such as studying filing patterns and even prosecution.
HUD-VASH Program in the U.S.
HUD-VASH is a housing assistance program that was formed through collaboration of the U.S Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and department of Veteran Affairs (VA). The program combines HUD housing vouchers and the supportive services of VA to assist homeless veterans and their families to access permanent housing. Rental assistance vouchers are provided by the HUD to veterans who are eligible for health care services of VA and who are homeless so that they can get privately owned housing. VA managers connect these homeless veterans with the HUD-VASH program as well as other assistance services in the Veteran Affairs department. Currently, HUD-VASH has connected the largest number of veterans with long-term homelessness. The program also offers assistance in medical, mental, and rehabilitation interventions for substance use disorders. Eligible veterans must demonstrate that they are able to complete daily living activities independently. Veterans who would like to get housing assistance through HUD-VASH program can contact any local VA Homeless Program or can get referral from a case manager.
Protection for People with Limited English Proficiency (LEP)
The most recent development in Section 8 program is the HUD's provision to protect people with "limited English proficiency.". LEP guidelines issued by HUD specify how Fair Housing Act would be used to handle housing discrimination cases. The new guidelines intend to protect more than 25 million people within United States who are not able to communicate proficiently in English. Providers of housing are therefore prohibited from using limited English proficiency as a discriminatory reason to deny housing.
ConnectHome Program in the U.S.
The ConnectHome Program was a 2015 initiative by the federal government, the private sector, and other US communities intending to provide high speed broadband to families all over the country. The program targets mostly low-income homes, children, and schools where access to information is crucial. Non-profit organizations, internet service providers and private sector institutions offer digital literacy trainings, broadband access services, as well as electronic devices to the residents of assisted housing units. HUD has collaborated with public and private sector organizations to facilitate access to high-speed internet broadband among the low-income households in America.
Office of Affordable Housing Programs (OAHP)
The Office of Affordable Housing Programs facilitates public housing by collaborating with the Office of Community Planning to increase the stock of affordable houses available to low- income households. HOME Investments Partnerships Program is an initiative that provides grants to local governments or states and finances building, buying, or rehabilitation of houses for rental purpose or ownership. It is the largest federal grant program to provide affordable housing to low-income families all over the United States. Another similar project by the Office of Community Planning and Development is the National Housing Trust Fund (HTF) which also supports acquisition, construction, and re-construction of rental houses for the households with extremely low incomes or those that live below poverty line. HUD works together with Office of Community Planning to provide affordable public housing to the families all over the country.