WASHINGTON - The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) published guidance in the Federal Register today to assist housing providers in ensuring that people with limited English proficiency (LEP) have an understanding of housing documents.
The guidance was published in response to President Bush's commitment to Executive Order (EO) 13166, "Improving Access to Services for Persons with LEP," which requires all federal, local and state agencies that receive federal funding ensure that people with limited language skills have meaningful access to government programs and services.
The policy is not a regulation but rather guidance. Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, or national origin in all HUD-assisted programs, and its implementing regulations, require that housing providers take reasonable steps to ensure meaningful access by LEP persons. The guidance provides an analytical framework that housing providers may use to determine how best to comply with statutory and regulatory obligations to provide meaningful access to the benefits, services, information, and other important portions of their programs and activities for individuals who have limited English proficiency.
"The goal of the LEP guidance is to eliminate the disparities in access to housing between those with a limited comprehension of English and fluent English-speakers," explained Kim Kendrick, HUD's Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity. "When signing a lease for an apartment or a contract for a new home, people regardless of their nationality should have access to forms, brochures and other important housing information they can understand."
HUD currently has discrimination complaint forms in Arabic, Vietnamese, Russian, Chinese and Spanish, and one model lease in Spanish. These documents are currently available on HUD's website for free to the public. In the future, HUD, an agency that offers a Spanish-language website, also plans to translate a model apartment lease into French, Portuguese, Korean, Amharic, Russian and Chinese.
"From the battered immigrant women and their children, to the low-wage immigrant worker, to the owner operating a business in an economically distressed neighborhood, language barriers confront so many Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (APPI) and limit their ability to improve their economic situation," said Lisa Hasegawa, Executive Director of the National Coalition for Asian Pacific American Community Development. "Over half of Vietnamese, Hmong, Cambodian, Bangladeshi, Laotian, and Taiwanese are limited in their English proficiency. This guidance is an important tool to ensure that HUD programs are accessible to all people living in the United States, regardless of the language they speak."
HUD will hold a meeting at HUD Headquarters on February 13, 2007, to brief interested members of the public on the LEP Final Guidance and respond to questions about the guidance. The LEP Guidance meeting will be held from 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm (Eastern time) at HUD Headquarters, for which the address is the Department of Housing and Urban Development, 451 Seventh Street, SW, Washington, DC 20410.
Members of the public who are interested in attending this meeting must submit a request by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. The email must contain the participant's name, contact information, and basis for interest in this meeting. In addition, participants who require a reasonable accommodation should identify the accommodation they need to attend and fully participate in this meeting. The deadline for submitting requests is Friday, February 9, 2007.
FHEO and its partners in the Fair Housing Assistance Program investigate approximately 10,300 housing discrimination complaints annually. People who believe they are the victims of housing discrimination should contact HUD at 1-800-669-9777 (voice), (800) 927-9275 (TTY). Additional information is available at www.hud.gov/fairhousing. To view the discrimination complaint form in Arabic, Vietnamese, Russian, Chinese and Spanish, click the links below.
Discrimination Complaint Form in Arabic
Discrimination Complaint Form in Vietnamese
Discrimination Complaint Form in Russian
Discrimination Complaint Form in Chinese
Discrimination Complaint Form in Spanish
(Source: HUD No. 07-005)
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