The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced today that it has reached a conciliation agreement/voluntary compliance agreement with MGM Investment Company, the owner of Roosevelt Plaza Apartments in Phoenix, as well as its property manager, resolving allegations that they violated the Fair Housing Act and Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 when they failed to provide adequate language services for a resident with limited English proficiency. Roosevelt Plaza Apartments is a recipient of HUD funding.
The Fair Housing Act prohibits housing providers from discriminating against people because of national origin. Title VI of the Civil Rights Act prohibits discrimination on the basis of national origin by recipients of federal financial assistance and requires such recipients to take reasonable steps to ensure that people with limited English proficiency have meaningful access to language services.
“Having access to important information related to federally-financed housing, such as details about application procedures and the terms of lease agreements, shouldn’t depend on being fluent in English,” said Demetria McCain, HUD’s principal deputy assistant secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity. “Title VI requires housing providers to make this information available to all applicants and tenants, regardless of what language they speak, and HUD is committed to ensuring that they meet that obligation.”
The case came to HUD’s attention when a woman from the Central African country of Chad, who has limited English proficiency, filed a complaint alleging that the owner and manager of Roosevelt Plaza Apartments, where she and her daughter live, failed to provide her with the language services she needed to make informed decisions about her housing. The woman also alleged that respondents insisted that she sign English-language housing documents when she cannot adequately speak or read English.
Under the agreement, MGM Investment Company will pay the woman $1,000 and each household with limited English proficiency $500, up to a total compensation of $34,000; provide interpretation services; ensure that signage in English, Somali, Arabic, Kinyarwanda, Tigrinya and Spanish stating that interpretation services are available to current and prospective residents, free of charge, is posted at the entrances to the property; develop and implement a language access plan to provide for translated documents; and have its employees attend fair housing training.
People who believe they have experienced discrimination can file a complaint by contacting HUD’s Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity at 800-669-9777 (voice) or 800-877-8339 (relay). Housing discrimination complaints can also be filed by going to hud.gov/fairhousing.