Legal Aid of North Carolina recently settled a housing discrimination complaint against the High Point Housing Authority (HPHA), a public housing authority located in High Point, North Carolina. The complaint was filed with the NC Human Relations Commission (NCHRC) by a 55-year-old Black female whose application for a Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher was improperly denied because of HPHA’s criminal history policy. The complaint alleged that HPHA, based on its criminal history policy, illegally rejected the Complainant’s Section 8 Voucher application in 2017, solely because of arrests that occurred in 1986 and 2011, in violation of the federal Fair Housing Act (FHA). HPHA denied the allegations and asserted that its actions were not in violation of the FHA. The NCHRC later issued a determination that reasonable grounds existed to believe that HPHA had discriminated against the applicant.
As a result of the conciliation agreement signed by the parties and approved by the NCHRC on February 11, 2022, HPHA paid the Complainant an undisclosed monetary amount; agreed to three (3) years of fair housing training of all decision-making HPHA employees in the Section 8 Voucher and public housing programs; and began the process of adopting and implementing a new criminal history policy, substantially based on 2015 and 2016 guidance from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Jack Holtzman, Director of the Fair Housing Project, noted that overly broad policies that reject all applicants with a criminal history can violate fair housing laws, stating “High Point Housing Authority is to be commended for agreeing to adopt and implement a FHA-compliant criminal history policy, which will review applicants’ individual situations rather than automatically rejecting all Section 8 voucher and public housing applicants who have only been arrested.”
Legal Aid of North Carolina’s involvement in this litigation was made possible in part by a grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Fair Housing Initiatives Program.
More from this Newsletter Issue: Spring 2022
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