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RULE §20.8Fair Housing, Waitlist Policy, Affirmative Marketing and Procedures, Housing Counseling, Denials, Notice to Applicants, Reasonable Accommodations, and Limited English Proficiency

(a) Fair Housing. In addition to Chapter 1, Subchapter B of this title (relating to Accessibility and Reasonable Accommodations), an Administrator must comply with all applicable state and federal rules, statutes, or regulations, involving accessibility including the Fair Housing Act, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the Architectural Barriers Act as well as state and local building codes that contain accessibility requirements; where local, state, or federal rules are more stringent, the most stringent rules shall apply. Administrators receiving Federal or state funds must comply with the Age Discrimination Act of 1975.

(b) Preferences. Administrators of the Amy Young Barrier Removal Program may have a preference prioritizing Households to prevent displacement from permanent housing, or to foster returning to permanent housing related to inaccessible features of the unit.

(c) Waitlist Policy. An Administrator receiving Federal funds must have a Waitlist Policy. The Waitlist Policy must be submitted to the Department each time the Administrator applies for a new contract or a new type of activity. The Administrator may submit a previously approved Waitlist Policy if no changes need to be made. The Waitlist Policy must be submitted at a minimum of every three years if the Administrator continues to accept new Applications. An Administrator receiving Federal funds must submit a Waitlist Policy with an Affirmative Fair Housing Marketing Plan as described in subsection (d) of this section, relating to Affirmative Marketing and Procedures.

  (1) A Waitlist Policy must include any Department approved preferences used in selecting Applicants from the list. An Administrator that has defined preferences in its written waitlist procedures or tenant selection plans, as applicable, will employ preferences first and select Applicants from the waiting list that meet the defined preference, still using the neutral random selection process. An Administrator of a federally funded Program may only request to establish preferences that are included in Department planning documents, specifically the One Year Action Plan or Consolidated Plan, or as otherwise allowed for CDBG funded Activities.

  (2) An Administrator must accept Applications from possible eligible Applicants for a minimum of a 21 calendar day period. A first-come, first-served basis may not be implemented during initial selection. At the close of the minimum 21 calendar day Application acceptance period, an Administrator must select Applications through a neutral random selection process that the Administrator described in its written policies and procedures. After the Administrator has allowed for the minimum 21 calendar day period to accept Applications and has used a neutral random selection process to assist Households, the Administrator may accept Applications on a first-come, first-served basis if funds remain in the current contract or Activity type. The Director of Programs, or designee, may approve an exemption from the 21 calendar day period and the neutral random selection process for Administrators of HOME disaster set-aside Tenant Based Rental Assistance, as necessary to respond to the disaster.

(d) Affirmative Marketing and Procedures. An Administrator receiving Federal funds must have an Affirmative Fair Housing Marketing Plan (AFHMP) and satisfy the requirements of this subsection. The AFHMP must be submitted to the Department each time the Administrator applies for a new contract or a new type of activity, and reflect marketing activities specific to the activity type. The Administrator may submit a previously approved AFHMP if no changes need to be made. The plan must be submitted at least one time in any three-year period if the Administrator continues to accept new Applications.

  (1) Administrators must use the AFHMP form on the Department's website, HUD Form 935.2B, or create an equivalent AFHMP that includes:

    (A) Identification of the population "least likely to apply" for the Administrator's Program(s) without special outreach efforts. Administrators may use the Department's single family affirmative marketing tool to determine populations "least likely to apply." If Administrators use another method to determine the populations "least likely to apply" the AFHMP must provide a detailed explanation of the methodology used. Persons with Disabilities must always be included as a population least likely to apply.

    (B) Identification of the methods of outreach that will be used to attract persons identified as least likely to apply. Outreach methods must include identification of a minimum of three organizations with whom the Administrator plans to conduct outreach, and whose membership or clientele consists primarily of protected class members in the groups least likely to apply. If the Administrator is unable to locate three such groups, the reason must be documented in the file.

    (C) Identification of the methods to be used for collection of data and periodic evaluation to determine the success of the outreach efforts. If efforts have been unsuccessful, the Administrator's AFHMP should be revised to include new or improved outreach efforts.

    (D) Description of the fair housing trainings required for Administrator staff, including delivery method, training provider and frequency. For programs involved in homebuyer transactions, training must include requirements of the Fair Housing Act relating to financing and advertising, expected real estate broker conduct, as well as redlining and zoning for all programs, and discriminatory appraisal practices.

    (E) A description of applicable housing counseling programs and educational materials that will be offered to Applicants. An Administrator offering any TDHCA Mortgage Loan utilizing federal funds must require that Households receive housing counseling prior to the date of the Mortgage Loan closing. Housing counseling may take place in-person or by telephone. Counseling may be provided online only if it is customized to the individual Household. Counseling must address pre- and/or post-purchase topics, as applicable to the Borrower's needs. A certificate of completion of counseling must be dated not more than 12 months prior to the date of submission of Mortgage Loan Application. For an Applicant who will receive construction assistance from a federally funded Program on or after August 1, 2021, housing counseling must be provided by HUD-certified counselors working for agencies participating in HUD's Housing Counseling Program.

  (2) Applicability.

    (A) Affirmative marketing is required as long as an Administrator of federal funds is accepting Applications or until all dwelling units are sold in the case of single family homeownership programs.

    (B) An Administrator that currently has an existing list of Applicants and is not accepting new Applications or establishing a waitlist is not required to affirmatively market until preparing to accept new Applications, but must develop a plan as described in this subsection.

    (C) An Administrator providing assistance in more than one Service Area must provide a separate plan for each market area in which the housing assistance will be provided.

    (D) Administrators must include the Equal Housing Opportunity logo and slogan on any commercial and other media used in marketing outreach.

    (E) Copies of all outreach and media ads must be kept and made available to the Department upon request.

(e) Mobility Counseling. An Administrator offering homeownership or rental assistance that allows the Household to relocate from their current residence must provide the Household access to mobility counseling. For homeownership, mobility counseling may be included in housing counseling and education trainings, and must cover the criteria noted in paragraphs (1) - (3) of this subsection.

  (1) Mobility counseling must, at a minimum, include easily understandable information that the Household can use in determining areas of opportunity within a Service Area, which must at minimum include the following: which areas have lower poverty rates, average income information of different areas, school ratings, crime statistics, available area services, public transit, and other items the Administrator deems appropriate in helping the Household make informed choices when identifying housing.

  (2) Mobility counseling may be offered online or in-person, and must be customized for the Household.

  (3) An Administrator must collect signed certifications from Applicants acknowledging they have received mobility counseling.

(f) Denials. In the case of any Applicant's denial from a program, a letter providing the specific reason for the denial must be provided to the Applicant within fourteen calendar days of the denial. Administrators must keep a record of all denied Applicants including the basis for denial. Such records must be retained for the record retention period described by the Agreement or other sources.

(g) Notice to Applicants. Administrator must provide Applicants with eligibility criteria, which shall include the procedures for requesting a reasonable accommodation to the Administrator's rules, policies, practices, and services, including but not limited to, as it relates to the Application process.

(h) A copy of all Reasonable Accommodation requests and the Administrator's compliant responses to such requests, in accordance with §1.204 of this title (relating to Reasonable Accommodations), must be kept as stated in §1.409 of this title (relating to Records Retention).

(i) Provisions Related to Limited English Proficiency.

  (1) Administrator must have a Language Access Plan that ensures persons with Limited English Proficiency (LEP) have meaningful access and an equal opportunity to participate in services, activities, programs, and other benefits.

  (2) Materials that are critical for ensuring meaningful access to an Administrator's major activities and programs, including but not limited to Applications, mortgage loan Applications, consent forms and notices of rights, should be translated for any population considered least likely to apply that meets the threshold requirements of Safe Harbor LEP provisions as provided by HUD and published on the Department's website. Materials considered critical for ensuring meaningful access should be outlined in the Administrator's Language Access Plan.

  (3) The Administrator is required to translate Vital Documents under Safe Harbor guidelines, they must include in their Language Access Plan how such translation services will be provided (e.g., whether the Administrator will use voluntary or contracted qualified translation services, telephonic services, or will identify bilingual staff that will be available to assist Applicants in completing vital documents and/or accessing vital services). If the Administrator plans to use bilingual staff in its translation services, contact information for bilingual staff members must be provided.

  (4) The Language Access Plan must be submitted to the Department upon request and be available for review during monitoring visits. HUD and the Department of Justice have issued requirements to ensure meaningful and appropriate access to programs for LEP individuals.

  (5) Administrators must offer reasonable accommodations information and Fair Housing rights information in both English and Spanish, and other languages as required by the inclusion of "least likely to apply" groups to reach populations identified as least likely to apply.

(j) The Waitlist Policy and AFHMP, any documentation supporting the plans, and any changes made to the plans, must be kept in accordance with recordkeeping requirements for the specific Program, and in accordance with 10 TAC §1.409 (relating to Records Retention).

Source Note: The provisions of this §20.8 adopted to be effective January 2, 2022, 46 TexReg 9002

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