What is the Fair Housing Project?
With funding from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) under the Fair Housing Initiatives Program (FHIP), Legal Aid of Arkansas’s Fair Housing Project seeks to eliminate housing discrimination and promote equal housing opportunity for all people regardless of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status and handicap. The project offers broad-based comprehensive fair housing enforcement services through testing, education, and advocacy to ensure compliance with the Fair Housing Act and other state and federal civil rights laws.
What is the Fair Housing Act, and Who is Protected?
The Fair Housing Act (FHA) is a federal act of the United States that protects buyers and renters of a dwelling from discrimination based on their membership in a protected class. The classes that are protected under the FHA are:
- Race - People cannot be treated differently because of their race or personal characteristics associated with race
- Color - People cannot be treated differently because of their skin color or complexion
- National Origin - People cannot be treated differently because of their place of origin or ancestry or because they have physical, cultural, or linguistic characteristics of a specific or particular national origin group
- Religion - People cannot be treated differently because of their religious observance, practices, and beliefs
- Sex - People cannot be treated differently because of their gender; this includes gender identity, protections for domestic violence survivors, and prohibiting sexual harassment
- Familial Status - People cannot be treated differently because they have children under the age of 18, are pregnant, are trying to adopt, or have custody or guardianship of children under the age of 18
- Handicap (Disability) - People cannot be treated differently because of a physical or mental disability
What Conduct is Prohibited Under the FHA?
If done on the basis of membership in a protected class, housing providers cannot:
- Refuse to rent or sell
- Refuse to negotiate for housing
- Make housing unavailable
- Deny housing
- Create different terms, conditions, or privileges for sale or rental of a dwelling
- Apply different terms that are harder for members of a protected class to meet
- Provide different housing services or facilities
- Print or publish any statement indicating preference, limitation, or discrimination
- Falsely deny that housing is available for inspection, sale, or rental
- Refuse to make reasonable accommodations and modifications for people with disabilities
- Construct new multi-family dwellings that are inaccessible for people with disabilities
- Discriminate in financial or brokerage services
- Threaten, intimidate, coerce, or retaliate
- Engage in steering
- Engage in blockbusting
Reasonable Accommodations and Modifications
A reasonable accommodation is a change in a rule, policy, practice, or service of a housing provider that may be necessary to allow a person with a disability the equal opportunity to use and enjoy their home. A reasonable modification is a physical change to a dwelling that may be necessary for a person with a disability to use and enjoy their home.
A request for a reasonable accommodation or modification can be made to a housing provider in writing or verbally. It's best to have the request in writing, but it is not necessary. Legal Aid has developed a guided interview that will help draft a letter requesting a reasonable accommodation or modification from a housing provider. After answering a series of questions, a request letter will generate that can be passed along to a housing provider.
Click here to begin the interview.
How to Get Help
There are two options to address a fair housing violation:
- File a complaint with HUD or file a complaint with the Arkansas Fair Housing Commission
- Note: there is a one-year statute of limitations
- File a private lawsuit in state or federal court
- Note: there is a two-year statute of limitations
Become a Fair Housing Tester
Help stop housing discrimination by becoming a fair housing tester with Legal Aid! Fair housing testing is an investigative tool for gathering evidence on the differences in quality, content, and quantity of information and service given to homeseekers by housing providers. Legal Aid conducts housing tests throughout Arkansas. Individuals from various backgrounds and in all areas of the state are encouraged to become testers. New testers will attend a half-day training where they will learn about housing and civil rights laws, be assigned a tester profile, and complete at least one fair housing test. Once they have applied to become a tester and completed training, they will be contacted periodically throughout the year to run tests. Commitment is flexible. Testers receive payment for one day of training and additional payment for tests completed throughout the year.
Note: No real estate agents or landlords.
Fair Housing Videos
Fair Housing Brochures
FHIP Presentations and Events
Below is a list of upcoming FHIP presentations and events. To schedule a free fair housing presentation from Legal Aid at your organization, please email email@example.com.