Social Service Providers
Working Together to Bring About Fair Housing
Fair housing laws apply to social service providers and non-profit organizations that provide long- and short-term housing, motels that function as primary housing (rather than vacation lodging), transitional housing, and homeless and domestic violence survivor shelters.
The Fair Housing Council of Oregon provides technical assistance to address common areas of confusion. We also offer training sessions for staff to learn their roles and responsibilities under fair housing law, as well as access to resources and data for groups researching housing discrimination and performing fair housing testing. Together, we can affirmatively advocate for justice, equity, and inclusion in housing throughout our state.
How Fair Housing Law Applies to Transitional and Shelter Housing Providers
Fair housing law applies to the entire relationship between an applicant or resident and a housing or shelter provider, starting from the moment an applicant makes an initial inquiry into availability and continuing through the waitlist and application process, residency, termination, and move-out.
Common examples of interactions that could lead to an illegal housing discrimination claim include:
- Providing false information or steering a potential resident to another shelter based on their protected class.
- Not treating all residents consistently in terms of how you’re applying policies, rules, and procedures.
- Imposing additional program requirements on participants and residents based on protected class.
- Harassment, intimidation, threats, and coercion based on protected class, including protecting residents from harassment by other residents.
- Termination for reasons other than objective, fact-based behavior that could be construed as discriminatory, regardless of the provider’s intent.
Many transitional and shelter housing providers also defend their residents’ fair housing rights as they seek permanent housing. FHCO can assist providers with investigating complaints and advocating on their residents’ behalf with landlords and home sellers.
Promoting Integrated and Equitable Communities in Our State
The Fair Housing Council of Oregon partners with non-profit and other social service organizations statewide to affirmatively advocate for justice, equity, and inclusion in every housing transaction. Our goal is to provide education, resources, and technical assistance that support their efforts to provide stable housing for protected class individuals and families.
We provide resources and tools to non-profit groups seeking redress for past discrimination and offer assistance with fair housing testing efforts.
Disparate Impact a Powerful Tool for Social Service Agencies to Implement Fair Housing
Disparate impact is a legal doctrine under the federal Fair Housing Act that states that a policy may be considered discriminatory if it has a “disproportionately adverse impact” against any protected class when there is no legitimate, non-discriminatory need for the policy.
The Supreme Court in a June 2015 decision recognized that discrimination is not always overt, and disparate impact is an important tool that allows plaintiffs “to counteract unconscious prejudices and disguised animus that escape easy classification.”
FHCO can help social service agencies identify private and public practices, procedures, and policies that may have a disparate impact on protected class groups and provide assistance to non-profit organizations and victims of illegal housing discrimination to find remedies that affirmatively further the goals of justice, equity, and inclusion in every housing transaction.
FHCO also can provide housing discrimination testers to visit a property and gather independent evidence that shows how a provider is breaking fair housing laws. When a test shows evidence of illegal housing discrimination, we can assist the social service agency in referring the victim to a lawyer or an enforcement agency such as the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) or the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries (BOLI).