There are federal, state and often local fair housing laws which make it illegal to discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, familial status, disability status, gender, and religion. Some local civil rights laws extend the prohibition on housing discrimination to persons based upon their sexual orientation (example: Dallas, Austin, Fort Worth).
All federal, state and local fair housing laws prohibit discrimination on the basis of race, color, and national origin. HUD, the Civil Rights Division of the Texas Workforce Commission, and local Fair Housing Offices in cities enforce those laws, primarily through an administrative process. In addition, the person who believes he/she has been the victim of discrimination can get a lawyer and file a private lawsuit. There are many excellent sources of information about fair housing law and how it is enforced. The links below are to several good ones:
- Texas Tenant Advisor, Discrimination Statutes: www.texastenant.org
- Texas Workforce Commission, Civil Right Division: www.twc.state.tx.us/customers/jsemp/jsempsubcrd.html
- U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development: www.hud.gov/offices/fheo
- Dallas Fair Housing Office: www.dallascityhall.com/departments/fairhousing/
ICP does not have lawyers on staff who bring individual fair housing cases, but we can discuss your situation with you, refer you to the right agency, or try to help you find a lawyer to take your case if it appears you have been the victim of discrimination.
Vouchers: In general, in purely privately owned housing in Texas, it is not against state or local law to discriminate on the basis that someone has a voucher, or to refuse to take the voucher. However, if that refusal to take the voucher or participate in the program is because of race, ethnicity, presence of children in the family or disability, that CAN be a violation of the fair housing laws. ICP counselors will talk to you about problems you may encounter getting a landlord to participate in the program or rent to you as a voucher holder, and will try to help you find a lawyer if it appears that is what is happening.
Tax Credit Properties: Housing that has been developed using the Low Income Housing Tax Credit Program is prohibited by federal law from discriminating against applicants because they have a Section 8 voucher. ICP can give you information about where those properties are, how to find out more about them, and what to do if they say they don’t take vouchers.