“Five years ago, Sharon Kha knew her living situation needed to change.
| APRIL 29, 2022 Fairness in PA Housing Includes People of All Ages, Abilities, and Income LevelsThe Department of Human Services (DHS) believes that housing is a right for all Pennsylvanians. Our mission is to ensure that housing assistance is available to all, especially those who need it most. April is National Fair Housing Month. April 11, 2022, marked the 54th anniversary of the enactment of the federal Fair Housing Act, which protects people from discrimination when they are renting or buying a home, getting a mortgage, seeking housing assistance, or engaging in other housing-related activities. Initially, the Fair Housing Act prohibited discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, and national origin. Later, the Act’s protections were expanded to include discrimination on the basis of sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, disability, and familial status.|
Pennsylvania has a variety of housing programs and services that can help older adults, people with disabilities, individuals and families with low incomes, or those who are at-risk of or experiencing, homelessness. These programs can connect individuals and families with local assistance in finding somewhere to live, in-home supports, home modifications, and more.Housing Quick Reference Guide | Spanish — DHSSupports and Services for People Experiencing Homelessness — DHS What Type of Housing Assistance is Available? Here are some of the types of services that exist:Housing search — Tools to locate housing in your area.Homeless shelters — Temporary residences for individuals and families experiencing homelessness.Short-term housing — Housing options that typically offer leases of less than six months.Relocation assistance — Assistance with downsizing and relocation.Assisted living facilities — A long-term senior care option that provides personal care support services such as meals, medication management, bathing, dressing and transportation.Housing modifications — Assistance with home improvements, modifications, and repairs that improve the accessibility, adaptability, and/or design of a home.Home and community-based supports — Services that provide assistance with a variety of activities to help individuals remain in their home or community. Housing Resources for PennsylvaniansPennsylvania Housing Finance Agency (PHFA) Housing Resources
In the Quick Start Housing Resources section, PHFA and the Self-Determination Housing Project’s Regional Housing Coordinators have compiled local housing and social services resources for every county across the Commonwealth, including variety of housing providers such as housing authorities, homeless services providers, access home modification programs, community action agencies, and more.
PA Housing Search
www.pahousingsearch.com | 1-877-428-8844
This is a free, online rental and homeownership service that helps people search for housing by topics such as rent amount, area of interest, accessibility, or availability of public transportation. A bi-lingual, toll-free number is also available. On the website, you can also find additional statewide information and resources, including a rental checklist, rent calculator, information on services, transportation, FAQs related to renting, and much more.
Public Housing Authorities
If you need public housing assistance or information about public housing programs, such as Housing Choice Vouchers (HCVs), please contact your local public housing authority (PHA). The HCV program is the federal government’s major program that assists families with with low incomes, older adults, and individuals with disabilities obtain safe and sanitary housing in the private housing market. Pennsylvania’s list of PHAs and contact information can be found at the above link.
PA LINK to Community Care
Aging and Disability Resource Centers (ADRC) are a nationwide effort to assist older adults and individuals with disabilities who need help with activities of daily living. The ADRC in Pennsylvania is known as the Link. The PA Link can: easily connect you to local services through any LINK partner agency; help you explore existing options to ensure a secure plan for independence; assist you with applications to determine eligibility; and help you remain in, or return to, your community.
Rural Development Multi-Family Rental Housing Search Tool
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s web-based rural housing search tool allows you to click on your county to find information about housing in your area.
2-1-1 United Way
www.pa211.org | Call: 2-1-1
PA 2-1-1 is a free resource and information hub that can connect you with customized health, housing, and human services information. By calling 211, you can receive information related to food, housing, employment, health care, along with a variety of other services. PA 2-1-1 also provides a 24/7 confidential phone service and website. For individuals facing a housing crisis, you can also ask for support in learning how to connect to your community’s Coordinated Entry lead and partner agencies. 2-1-1 provides this services in some communities, and can connect you to resources.
DHS Emergency Rental Assistance Program
The Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP) was created to help renters dealing with financial challenges related to the COVID-19 pandemic. For eligible households, the program offers rental and utility assistance to help Pennsylvanians avoid eviction or loss of utility service. Certain PA counties may still have funding available to help landlords and renters at risk of eviction or losing utility services because of the COVID-19 pandemic.File a Complaint
Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission (PHRC)
In Pennsylvania, fair housing is enforced by the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission (PHRC), under the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act (PHRA). The Act prohibits housing discrimination in the sale, rental, finance, or otherwise to deny or withhold any housing accommodation or commercial property from any person based on race, color, age, religion, national origin, ancestry, disability, sex, familial status, or use of a supportive/service animal for a disability. If you feel you have been the victim of illegal housing and commercial property discrimination, file a complaint or report a bias incident to PHRC: Call the Pennsylvania Fair Housing Hotline at 855-866-5718.Call 717-787-4410 | 717-787-7279 (TTY)Visit one of PHRC’s three regional offices.
(Regional offices are currently closed due to COVID-19 precautions. Drop boxes for required forms are available in the lobby of the Philadelphia and Pittsburgh offices.)Pennsylvania Attorney General
The Civil Rights Enforcement Section of the PA Attorney General’s Office protects and advances the rights of Pennsylvanians through the enforcement of state and federal civil rights laws. The office reviews every complaint of a civil rights violation to determine the proper response.Submit a Civil Rights ComplaintView the Civil Rights Enforcement Section BrochureAdditional Fair Housing Resources Fair Housing in Pennsylvania — PA Department of Economic Development (DCED)Fair Housing and Lending — PA Attorney General UPDATE YOUR CONTACT INFORMATION Did you move? Have a new phone number?
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on Social@PAHumanServices@PAHumanServicesPA Department of Human ServicesThank you for subscribing!All of us at DHS would like to extend a heartfelt “thank you” to all of our readers as we continue to serve, protect, and educate Pennsylvania’s most vulnerable. If you’re not a DHS regular yet, be sure to follow us on social and visit our For All of Us blog for more reads.DHS & PA Headlines• Department of Human Services Recognizes Holistic Supports in Child Abuse Prevention
• State needs ‘continued investment’ in assisted living, department says
— McKnights Senior Living
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Agency Spotlight: Fair Housing Law Center
In recognition of Fair Housing Month 2022, we are honored to highlight the Fair Housing Law Center. Located in Washington County, FHLC operates in 28 counties in Western Pennsylvania as well as four counties in West Virginia. Operated by Southwestern Pennsylvania Legal Aid, FHLC has been a major asset to Pennsylvania since 2005. Their mission is to “identify and eliminate housing discrimination through education, advocacy, and enforcement efforts”.
FHLC works tirelessly to uphold the Fair Housing Act through a combination of education, training, and advocacy efforts. One of their well-known initiatives is their Tester Program. In this program, trained Fair Housing Testers measure landlords for discrimination by acting as renters who fall into a protected class. The testers complete reports, which are then reviewed by FHLC staff. Further action is taken against landlords as needed.
FHLC Deputy Director Jaime Milligan shared that complaints alleging discrimination because of disability continue to account for the largest number of complaints, at 54.56%. Discrimination based on disability is usually overt, making it easier to detect and more practical to file a complaint. In the last grant year, they successfully resolved 25 reasonable accommodation or modification cases, referred 7 reasonable accommodation/modification denials to either Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission (PHRC) or HUD, and filed one complaint in federal court. These numbers are a great reminder of both the prevalence of these discriminations as well as the need for the services that agencies such as FHLC provides.
For more information on the Fair Housing Law Center, including how to become a tester and how to report discrimination, check out their website at fhlaw.org or give them a call at 1-877-725-4472
“The Oakland, California project will nearly double Alameda county’s capacity to serve homeless youth.”
by Sara Tiano
Ayear ago, the spot on Hegenberger Road in Oakland’s industrial district was but a barren parking lot. Today, it is an art-drenched neighborhood of ‘tiny homes’ created by a local nonprofit, the latest effort to address California’s youth homelessness crisis.
The 26 tiny homes, each measuring 8 feet by 10 feet, feature skylights, heated floors and custom Murphy beds that, when folded up, transform into a table. Each miniature house designed for one is painted in an array of bright colors and adorned with two full-wall murals draping the exterior, depicting everything from a serene moonlit mermaid scene to a bustling cityscape dotted with protest signs — all painted by local youth artists.
There are shared bathrooms and two community yurts: one filled with couches and armchairs like the common room of a college dorm, and the other a kitchen and dining space. Lines of colorful planter boxes snaking across the lot bear flowers, vegetables and fruit trees.
‘This village is a metaphor for everyone realizing their vision for a cohesive, copacetic environment for people to grow,’ said 20-year-old Sean McCreary, who developed the tiny home village project along with his peers at the nonprofit Youth Spirit Artworks.”
“This photo provided by ICON shows one of its 3D-printed homes in Austin, Texas. It’s part of a new generation of startups that wants to disrupt the way houses are built by automating production with industrial 3D printers. (Regan Morton Photography/Courtesy of ICON via AP)”
by Terence Chea
“A new generation of startups wants to disrupt the way houses are built by automating production with industrial 3D printers.
“3D printing, also known as additive manufacturing, uses machines to deposit thin layers of plastic, metal, concrete and other materials atop one another, eventually producing three-dimensional objects from the bottom up. In recent years, 3D printers have mostly been used to create small quantities of specialized items such as car parts or prosthetic limbs, allowing consumers or businesses to produce just what they need using the machines at home or work.
“Now a small number of startups around the world are applying 3D printing to home construction, arguing that it’s faster, cheaper and more sustainable than traditional construction. They say these technologies could help address severe housing shortages that have led to soaring home prices, overcrowding, evictions and homelessness across the U.S.
“But 3D home construction is still in the early stage of development. Most startups in this field are developing new technologies and not building homes yet. And two of the highest profile and best-financed companies – Mighty Buildings and ICON – have delivered fewer than 100 houses between them.
“To move beyond a niche market, construction firms will need to significantly ramp up production and persuade home buyers, developers and regulators that 3D printed houses are safe, durable and pleasing to the eye. They’ll also need to train workers to operate the machines and install the homes.”
“Deb Knox, left, shows Sharon Kha her choices as she prepares their lunch, April 6, 2021. The two came together four years ago when Kha needed help living in her home and Knox needed to get out of mortgage.” – Kelly Presnell / Arizona Daily Star
by Carmen Duarte
“She needed help because her Parkinson’s disease was advancing. She was diagnosed in 2003 with the brain disorder that leads to shaking, stiffness and difficulty with walking, balance and coordination.
“’I knew that I could no longer live alone, but I wasn’t ready to move into assisted living,’ recalled Kha, 77.
“’I needed someone to cook my evening meal and someone to live in my house who could respond if I fell,’ said the former broadcast journalist and retired associate vice president for University of Arizona Communications who also served as assistant to the UA president. She retired in 2005.
“A friend mentioned Deb Knox, 76, a self-employed businesswoman who is a writing coach for those interested in writing memoirs and autobiographies. Knox moved from New England to Tucson 20 years ago. She wanted to downsize and sell her midtown condo to get out from under a mortgage.
“Kha and Knox talked on the phone about five times, and their personalities clicked, said Kha.”