Social Service Providers

A dialogue among Housing Providers, Service Providers and Fair Housing Advocates

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Social Service Providers in Canton and Stark County

The City of Canton presents a training on Fair Housing issues

Tuesday March 12th, 1 PM-4 PM

Stark Metropolitan Housing Authority,

400 Tuscarawas Street East,

Canton, OH 44702, Lower level

Overview of Fair Housing:

  • why are there fair housing laws?

  • what are the protected classes?

  • what's the Rule of Thumb?

  • what's the exception to the Rule of Thumb?

The GENERAL RULE for RA/RM (Fair housing Act and ORC 4112)?

  • landlord may not unreasonably refuse to provide a reasonable accommodation of a rule, policy, or procedure to address the needs of a person with a disability

  • landlord may not unreasonably deny permission to a tenant to make a modification of the premise to address the needs of a person with a disability

The RULE for RA/RM where there is direct Federal Assistance (Section 504)?

  • Housing provider must make a modification for a person with a disability as long as the modification is economically, architecturally, or programmatically feasible.

  • Who's covered by Section 504?

  • How can you find out? (hint: housing landscape?)

What's a disability under the law? An individual with a disability is any person who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities.

Signs of discrimination: It is not just denial...think: difference in treatment.

1. "Don't bother to apply..."

2. "Maybe you should look somewhere else..."

3. Unconventional advertising

4. Advertising that expresses demographic preferences.

5. "We are a senior community".

6. Interior segregation.

7. Separate waiting lists.

8. Verbally abusive or offensive statements.

9. Unusual screening criteria

Your rental housing practice
  • Adopt an empowerment attitude

  • Inform, support and inspire action and remove barriers to tenants telling their own stories

  • Join a housing rights network

  What happened
six social service providers participated in the workshop.  Kyle Stone opened with a question:  "What do you know about fair housing?"  One of the participants shared an informal test that she was running on prospective landlords.  Tests where the caller ID was blocked or caller did not leave last name did not get call backs.

Pre and Post Test
All participants completed the pre and post tests. Pre test average score was 4.5; post test average score was 5. Post test results were skewed by two participants who scored WORSE on the post test.

Questions and discussion
  1. What's reasonable? Reasonable is what is reasonable to both parties.  Usually landlords and tenants discover what's reasonable in the interactive process.  Social service providers can be instrumental in helping landlords and tenants get to 'yes'
  2. Who has standing to bring a claim? Kyle descibed a case where the complainant was not a tenant, just a guest.  Wells explained that Visitability could be grounds for a non disabled person making a reasonable accommodation or modification request even thought the tenant her/himself is not disabled.
  3. when can a person with disabilities raise request a reasonable accommodation?  A tenant or a homeseeker can make an RA/RM request at any time.  Spencer explained how Community Legal Aid Services has been using RA/RM as an eviction defense.
  4. What is the enforcement process?  Kyle explains how City of Canton uses testing to substantiate a charge.  Wells explains the differences between public fair housing organizations and private FH enfocement agencies.

Evaluation comments
  • Help me deal with participants that I see on a daily basis
  • Can be more effective when helping both tenants and LLs
  • I am more aware of what is considered discrimination and what is considered a disability
  • too long, too much talking
  • loved the real life stories
  • increasing occupancy vs. termination/eviction causing homelessness
  • wanted content on dealing with lease violations/live ins
  • I can refer clients to make a call if they feel they weren't treated right
  • info provided will help with clients in housing crisis
  • need:  training on eviction

Sponsored by the City of Canton with support from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development