In the past few months, while many of the residents in our communities have escaped Florida’s heat and humidity, our friends at the U.S Department of Housing and Urban Development have been busy expanding the reach of Fair Housing protections.  

Here are a few of HUD’s more notable recent actions on the Fair Housing front:

  • In April, HUD’s Office of General Counsel published "guidance" making it more difficult for housing providers to justify denying a prospective owner or renter on the basis of that applicant’s criminal record.
  • On September 14, HUD issued its final rule on "Quid Pro Quo and Hostile Environment Harassment"–apparently creating new liabilities for a housing provider in certain situations for allowing a "hostile environment" to exist in the community to the detriment of a person who falls within one of the Fair Housing Act’s "protected classifications".
  • Just a few days after that final rule was issued, HUD apparently issued yet another decree–this time providing that persons who speak no or limited English are entitled to Fair Housing Act protections.

In other words, the rules of the Fair Housing game have changed over the summer.   We’re digesting HUD’s activities and plan on focusing our next community association seminars on the challenges of keeping ROC’s compliant with Fair Housing laws.  In the meantime, board members and managers in resident owned communities would be well advised to consult with their legal counsel about any Fair Housing questions they may have.

 

 

I’ve returned from a few days in Washington, DC at the American Bar Association’s 21st Annual Conference on Affordable Housing and Community Development Law.

The theme of the conference was "Making the Case for Affordable Housing and Community Development".  I attended a panel discussion on current Fair Housing Issues and a session on "hot topics" from the view of HUD representatives as well as an extremely informative discussion about the future of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac

I was privileged to hear remarks from HUD’s General Counsel and found a presentation on Ethics in Affordable Housing Transactions thought provoking and illustrative of the challenges facing attorneys involved in the sale, purchase, and development of housing communities.

The continuing need for affordable housing in our country was highlighted by a discussion with two members of the Bipartisan Policy Center’s Housing Commission.

While much of the conference focused on government assisted multifamily housing, a number of panels and presentations dealt with other topics.  I was invited to serve on a panel discussing cooperatives as a tool for housing and social enterprise.  My fellow panelists included the Interim President and CEO of the National Cooperative Business Association and a representative from the Rural Development Program of United States Department of Agriculture.

Among the many things I learned from my participation in this panel:

  • All of us deal with cooperatives on a daily basis.  Many businesses (and many, if not all credit unions) are cooperatives.
  • There are many states that have no statutes or laws governing resident owned housing cooperatives.
  • Finally, 2012 is the International Year of Cooperatives!  Who knew?

Our resident owned manufactured housing cooperatives have a reason to celebrate in 2012!