The Fayette Tribune, Oak Hill, W.Va.

Local News

April 15, 2013

April is Fair Housing Month

The Fayette County Commission and Town of Meadow Bridge are the recipients of Small Cities Community Development Block Grant funds from the West Virginia Development Office and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

The Fayette County Commission’s grant is Kanawha Falls PSD water extension project. The Town of Meadow Bridge has received a grant for a wastewater plant upgrade.

These grants carry a requirement that the Fayette County Commission and the Town of Meadow Bridge “affirmatively further fair housing.” It is important the citizens and landlords understand fair housing laws including definitions of protected classes and explanations of their rights.

Sexual harassment is becoming a big issue in Federal Fair Housing Law. Housing providers should be aware that they are responsible for any of their actions and the actions of any of their employees or agents with regard to acts of sexual harassment. Placing any conditions of rental or sale of property on the granting of sexual favors constitutes sexual harassment. Creating a hostile or intimidating atmosphere in housing through unwanted sexual remarks, innuendoes, sexual gestures, or display of sexual materials may also be construed as acts of sexual harassment.

Cross burning and certain forms of illegal, intimidation, race discrimination, zoning regulations for residential neighborhoods that define families as two or more individuals who are living together that are related by blood, marriage or adoption, denial of individuals with handicaps the opportunity to live in any neighborhood and refusal to rent to families with children are some of the many forms of discrimination under the Fair Housing Laws. The Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988 provides that individuals with handicaps shall not be required to obtain special use permit, special exception, or variance for location of a group home in any zone or district. Arguments of lowering property values and safety concerns for neighbors have been rejected as valid reasons for zoning restrictions for group homes. The housing discrimination law states that all property must be open to individuals with handicaps on the same basis as to any other person. Rental cannot be denied due to safety concerns the property owner may feel are present for the renter with handicaps.

Rental may only be refused to families with children if the housing is state or federally financed housing for the elderly or the number in the family would violate local fire or occupancy standards.

For more details, contact the Fair Housing Division of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development at 304-357-5316 or 304-357-5216.

Brochures and other publications regarding Fair Housing may be picked up at:

— Fayette County Commission, Fayette County Courthouse, Court Street, Fayetteville; and

— Town of Meadow Bridge.

 

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