HUD Decrees That Limited-English-Speakers Are Protected Under Fair Housing Act

By Susan Jones | September 16, 2016 | 11:30 AM EDT

 

(CNSNews.com) - "People with limited English proficiency are not a protected class under the Fair Housing Act," said the Department of Housing and Urban Development on Thursday.

But they are now, by decree.

Under the heading of "national origin," HUD is making non-English-speakers a protected class.

In its announcement, HUD noted that the Fair Housing Act "prohibits discrimination on seven protected bases, including national origin, which is closely linked to the ability to communicate proficiently in English. Housing providers are therefore prohibited from using limited English proficiency selectively or as an excuse for intentional housing discrimination," HUD said.

“Having a limited ability to speak English should never be a reason to be denied a home,” said Gustavo Velasquez, HUD Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity. “Every family that calls this nation home has the same rights when it comes to renting or buying a home, regardless of where they come from or language they speak.”

The new guidance from HUD warns against discriminatory practices, such as applying a language-related requirement to people of certain races or nationalities; posting advertisements that contain blanket statements, such as 'all tenants must speak English;' or immediately turning away applicants who are not fluent in English.  

"Targeting racial or national origin groups for scams related to housing also constitutes intentional discrimination."

HUD noted that more than 25 million people in the United States -- nearly 9 percent of the population -- do not communicate proficiently in English.

Approximately 16,350,000 (65 percent) of these individuals speak Spanish; 1,660,000 (7 percent) speak Chinese; 850,000 (3 percent) speak Vietnamese, 620,000 (2 percent) speak Korean and 530,000 (2 percent) speak Tagalog.