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Yes, the Fair Housing Act Protects Non-English Speakers

It’s a proxy for denying access to housing on the basis of national origin, a new HUD guidance says.
Signs of immigrant neighborhoods in the Los Angeles areas.
Signs of immigrant neighborhoods in the Los Angeles areas. Lucy Nicholson/REUTERS

People who speak, write, and read limited English are not in one of the seven categories protected from housing discrimination under the Fair Housing Act. But in a new guidance released Thursday, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development makes it very clear that this law still applies to them. Denying housing to those who speak other languages is just another way of discriminating on the basis of national origin, HUD argues—and that’s explicitly forbidden by the FHA.

“Having a limited ability to speak English should never be a reason to be denied a home,” said Gustavo Velasquez, who is the assistant secretary for fair housing and equal opportunity at HUD. “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.”