April is National Fair Housing Month


April 29, 2020 | by Emma Olson

April is National Fair Housing Month!

Know Your Rights: COVID-19 and Fair Housing

Fair housing means that housing providers cannot treat you differently or deny you housing based on your disability or another protected characteristic, like race or gender. You may have some questions as to how this all plays out while we are dealing with COVID-19. Here are answers to frequently asked questions from consumers:

1. Can my housing provider ask if I have a disability that makes me more likely to get COVID-19?
No, your housing provider cannot ask if you have a disability that makes you more likely to get COVID-19. Under the federal Fair Housing Act (FHA), it is illegal for a housing provider to make an inquiry that requires you to disclose your disability.

2. Can my housing provider ask if I have COVID-19 or have been exposed to COVID-19?
Your housing provider may not ask this question. However, your housing provider can (a) require that residents and guests follow social distancing guidelines, (b) limit the number of people who can ride the elevator or be in a common area at one time, and (c) insist on other safety measures recommended or required by the state and public health officials

3. Can my housing provider prohibit guests?
Your housing provider cannot outright ban all guests. However, it can develop safety protocols such as social distancing. Also, the housing provider should frequently disinfect the most touched surfaces.

4. My housing provider will not let my Personal Assistant (PA) come up to my unit to assist me. What can I do?
Under the Governor’s Stay at Home Order, Personal Assistants are considered essential workers. Your housing provider has to allow them up to your unit. If they refuse, show them this page of the Stay at Home Order. If they still refuse, you can call the police. You can also contact our Civil Rights Intake hotline.

5. What do I do if I no longer have income or have reduced income due to COVID-19 and have a subsidy or housing through the Chicago Housing Authority or the Housing Authority of Cook County?
You can submit an income re-evaluation form. This form will tell CHA or HACC to re-calculate your portion of the rent because your income has changed. Keep a copy of the form you send for your records. Here is the link for the CHA form, and here is the HACC form. If you live in HUD-subsidized housing or rent with any type of HUD subsidy, note that evictions for non-payment of rent are postponed until July 24, 2020. However, please continue to pay your rent! You do not want to be in the position of being evicted in late July because you failed to pay rent for the preceding months.

6. What if I am in CHA housing and have moving papers that are about to expire?
All CHA moving papers have been extended through June 30, 2020.

7. What do I do if I have other legal questions about housing and COVID-19 that have not been answered here?
Contact Access Living’s Civil Rights Team through the Intake Hotline.

This blog post is not legal advice. The law in this area is complex and unsettled, and each situation is unique and depends on many factors. If you have additional questions about your fair housing rights during the COVID-19 pandemic, please contact the Civil Rights Team as indicated above.