Title VI of the Civil Rights Act covers federally-assisted program, service or housing. All housing providers are subject to Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act (the Fair Housing Act).
“Everyone who applies for or lives in HUD-assisted housing should be able to access critical information about that housing, such as the application process, the terms of their lease, and the apartment building’s rules. Language must not be a barrier to accessing affordable housing. Under fair housing laws, affordable housing providers have an obligation to make important information available to all applicants and tenants, including people whose primary language is not English.”
Please watch the video below “LEP and Fair Housing Video explaining the obligations housing providers have to limited English proficient persons”.
LEP.gov is a federal inter-agency website that is a repository of information relative to federal requirements and guidance on how federal agencies and recipients of their grant funds are to address limited English proficiency. There are many resources, but most importantly under “Recipients of federal assistance”, you will find the guidance issued by HUD and the USDA, the two principal federal agencies providing federally-assisted housing funding.
Federal Agency LEP Guidance
The USDA LEP Implementation Strategy for Federally-Assisted Programs is probably the best instructional guide on how to comply with federal LEP guidance. In this guide, there is a good explanation of how to prepare the Language Needs Assessment and Language Access Plan.
HUD Office of General Counsel – Guidance on Fair Housing Act Protections for Persons with Limited English Proficiency
Additional agency information on LEP:
Language Identification Tools
Tools to help you identify a person’s language are mandatory in the federal-assisted setting. Commercial telephonic interpretation vendors offer language identification posters to help a person that is LEP to identify his/her language so that you can provide timely assistance in the appropriate language.
Using an “I speak…” card can help you to identify language quickly in order to adequately provide assistance.
There are also language identification resources available at LEP.gov. You will find an additional “I speak…” card there.
Notice of Non-Discrimination
The Notice of Non-Discrimination is a vital document. A provider of federally-assisted housing or program must give notification of:
- Its compliance with federal civil rights law,
- A consumer’s right to certain services that are available at no cost to those with communication disabilities and/or limited English proficiency, and
- The right to file a grievance or complaint.
Templates for Notice of Non-discrimination are available for use in the following languages:
Notice of Non-Discrimination Best Practices
For use with the templates provided above.
The Notice of Non-Discrimination should be posted in an accessible public area(s) of the office/project.
1: Add the name and contact information of the staff person that can be contacted to request communication or language assistance. This would usually be the property manager or person staffing the front desk.
2: Give the name and contact information of the in-house staff person that will address a client’s concerns about the communication or language assistance that has been provided. Usually, this will be the ADA Coordinator or LEP Coordinator or other person(s) assigned the responsibility for dealing with grievances per adopted grievance policies.
3: Indicate either or both:
|U.S. Department of HUD |
Attn: Assistant Secretary For FHEO
Washington, DC 20410
1-800-669-9777 (Toll Free)
|Intermountain Fair Housing Council |
4696 W. Overland Rd., Suite 140
Boise, Idaho 83705 1-208-383-0695
Above is the contact info for the Idaho fair housing organization.
Add the information appropriate for the state where the project is located.
The USDA Notice of Non-Discrimination
The USDA has a specific Non-Discrimination Notice that it requires its grantees to use. Contact the State agency or program sponsor in the state you are located to order copies of the “And Justice for All” (AD-475A) poster which includes a non-discrimination notice in English and Spanish. It must be displayed in a 11 x 17 size.
The USDA provides the text of the Notice in multiple languages that can be printed in an 8.5 x 11 format and displayed adjacent the poster.
The Fair Housing Poster
In federally-assisted housing, the Fair Housing Poster is a vital document. The IFHC recommends that all housing providers in Idaho display this poster in at least English and Spanish. Federally-assisted housing providers may have to display the Fair Housing Poster should be in additional languages based on a Language Needs Assessment that examines the languages in the market or service area and among current tenants or beneficiaries.
The Offer to Interpret
The Offer to Interpret, also known as, Translated Written Notice to Receive Free Oral Interpretation of Documents, is one of the most powerful and helpful tools available to providers of federally-assisted housing and other programs. The Offer to Interpret is available in multiple languages and is a simple statement that can accompany untranslated documents. It says:
This is an important document.
Do you need an interpreter?
We can provide free interpreter services to help you understand this document. Please tell us if you need an interpreter.
A provider would use the Offer to Interpret to accompany vital documents to demonstrate that it is operating within safe harbor parameters of the federal agency LEP Guidance. The Language Needs Assessment would help a provider determine the threshold limits for its use in the different languages.
Because the Offer to Interpret is available at no cost here in so many languages, it would be a best management practice to use it regardless of whether it is required or not. It can also be a good interim, but temporary step prior to translating a document. More importantly, the Offer to Interpret is a good customer relations tool that can help bridge the communication gap between a provider and a person that is LEP. It can and should be used whether or not it is required.
All Languages Consolidated | Albanian |Arabic | Armenian | Bosnian | Burmese | Cambodian | Cebuano (Visayan) | Chinese Simplified | Chinese Traditional | Farsi | French | German | Greek | Gujarati | Haitian (Kreyol) | Hebrew | Hindi | Hmong | Italian | Japanese | Karen | Kirundi | Kishwahili | Korean | Kurdish | Lao | Mixteco | Nepali | Pashto | Polish | Portuguese | Punjabi | Romanian | Russian | Samoan | Serbo-Croatian | Somali | Spanish | Swahili | Tagalog | Thai | Tigrinya | Turkish | Ukrainian | Urdu | Uzbeki | Vietnamese | Yiddish
The LEP Coordinator Job Description
The federal LEP Guidance does not require the designation of a LEP Coordinator. However, providing an LEP Coordinator is best management practice based upon HUD findings in cases where a person’s rights to language access were violated. The LEP Coordinator can coordinate the language assistance actions of an organization.
Use of Machine Interpretation and Translation Apps in Assisted Housing
The accuracy of machine interpretation and translation (e.g. Google Translate) continues to improve. These apps are downloadable to mobile devices and can be helpful in communicating with people in their own language. However, in a federally-assisted setting, there are some strict limitation on their use.
Federal LEP guidance requires that all communication relating to accessing programs and services (including housing) must be competent. However, informal conversations unrelated to the “meaningful access” to federally-assisted programs and services are not governed in this way. These apps can help you establish rapport with a LEP tenant just as you would with an English-speaking tenant. The benefit of this should not be overlooked.
However, when the conversation turns to accessing federally-assisted programs and services then a provider must rely on a human interpreter for help.
In a civil rights case involving four Massachusetts housing authorities, HUD stated:
Internet translation services may be used for:
- i. Communication on a preliminary or conventional basis (e.g. “good morning” “what language is that” “do you need an interpreter” etc.);
- ii. Communication of mundane information (e.g. “this is your parking space number” “this document has five pages” “we provide housing” etc.);
- iii. Simple requests for basic information (e.g. “what is your name” “what is your phone number” “what time can we call you”).
Resident Rights and Responsibilities: HUD-Assisted Housing
This brochure does not apply to all HUD-assisted housing but is a good guide for residents to help them understand their rights and responsibilities. The brochure is available for download in the following languages:
Because the Resident Rights and Responsibilities brochure does not mention a resident’s right to no-cost language assistance, it may be helpful to also provide to persons accessing federally-assisted housing or program, a Know Your Rights pamphlet from the U.S. Department of Justice. The Know Your Rights pamphlet is available in these languages: