Gwen Volk INFOCUS INC.’s response to COVID-19

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Fair Housing

Our Fair Housing and 504 compliance courses are continually updated to reflect the most current requirements. We offer courses suitable for agents and owners as well as courses for both new and experienced on-site staff. Select a course to find out the available formats and to read the course description. For a complete list of courses, download our Signature Course Catalog.

Fair Housing Timely Topics

Format: On-Site: 1 – 1½ hours or Virtual: 90 minutes

Focus: Fair Housing investigation and enforcement is back with new leadership at FHEO. The protected class of sex has been officially broadened to include sexual orientation and gender identity. More questions are being asked about meaningful access for persons with Limited English Proficiency, Reasonable Accommodation Policies, and Affirmative Fair Housing Marketing Plans. Important HUD initiatives that were repealed or replaced by the prior administration have been reinstated including the 2013 Disparate Impact Rule and the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing Initiative. Congress has reauthorized VAWA with some new rules for housing – when will the agencies issue new regs and how will they impact you? Join us for an update on these and other topics including lingering issues with COVID-19, HUD’s sexual harassment in housing initiative, Fair Housing violations in signage and on-line advertising, The ADA website accessibility requirements, Rural Development’s enforcement initiative for 504 Compliance, the Census Bureau tools for AFHMP’s and Language Assistance Plans, how owners are implementing the 2020 guidance on requests for service and emotional support animals. Ask your burning questions on Fair Housing and get the answers you need in order to stay in compliance. [Topics subject to change.]

Fair Housing: The Letter and the Spirit

Format: On-Site: 1 – 1½ hours or Virtual: 90 minutes

Focus: An interactive look back at the origins and evolution of Fair Housing laws in the United States: Where we are, how we got here, and where we might be headed. This is not a "nuts and bolts" course - it is a course designed to re-energize jaded housing providers to approach the rules in the spirit of the law. This course is interactive and engaging including a "Price is Right" style intro with prizes, a matching game of dates and events, and an inspirational Power Point.

Fair Housing Compliance: We’re All in This Together

Format: On-Site: 2 hours or Virtual: 2 hours

Focus: This session will help team members understand how what they do or say in performing their individual jobs can either prevent or result in fair housing complaints and/or violations. They will gain insight into how the perceptions and intentions of the applicant or resident and the team member set the stage for every encounter. They will learn to recognize how fair housing complaints and violations can result from their action, inaction, or delayed action as well as from their communication with applicants and residents verbally, nonverbally or in writing. With a focus on senior housing, each of these will be illustrated with real world examples relevant to team members at every level. Participants will be asked to determine what could have been done differently to avoid fair housing exposure. The session will conclude with a set of best practices and a take-home self-assessment.

HUD’s New Guidance on Criminal Activity and Housing

Format: On-Site: 1 – 1½ hours or Virtual: 90 minutes
Focus: The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development is working to make it easier for people with a criminal record to find housing. In a memo sent out to staff on April 19, HUD Secretary Marcia Fudge instructed the department to review programs and policies that may "pose barriers to housing for persons with criminal histories or their families." Fudge told staffers they have six months to propose updates and amendments consistent with the directive to "make our policies as inclusive as possible." Among the many things HUD staffers will be looking into are guidance documents, model leases and other agreements. Find out how these changes will impact the way you do business. While the immediate focus is on HUD programs, this course is applicable to all properties subject to the Fair Housing Act.

Implementing VAWA On Site

Format: On-Site: 2½ hour webinar or workshop / conference session

Focus: There’s more to complying with the Violence Against Women Act than the forms. Owners/Agents, managers, resident service coordinators, supervisors, and maintenance should attend this course. Here’s what we cover:
• Domestic Violence: a Snapshot {the numbers, the pandemic, housing instability and poverty, and obstacles to leaving (why victims stay)}.
• Complying with the Regulations {the protections, the forms, documentation issues, emergency transfers, guidance for HUD, RD, and LIHTC projects, and a review of state and local laws}.
• How to Handle the On-Site Issues {confidentiality, what to say and when to say it, when and how to be proactive, and 5 real-world “what would you do” scenarios representing challenges in both HUD/RD and Tax Credit properties focused on managers and maintenance staff}.

Fair Housing Case Studies: Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me!

Format: On-Site: 1 – 1½ hours or Virtual: 90 minutes

Focus: You’ve been trained ad nauseam on Fair Housing, right? So, let’s put that book-learning to use with some real-life challenges every manager faces on site. The answer is right on the tip of your tongue. Or is it?

Fair Housing for Maintenance Workshop

Format: On-Site: 4 hour Workshop or Virtual: One 4-hour session or two 2-hour sessions

Focus: Maintenance personnel come into contact with residents more than anyone else on site. And if they aren't careful, their interaction with a resident or a potential resident could be misunderstood and result in a fair housing violation. The workshop reviews fair housing basics from a maintenance team perspective and takes a look at typical situations where the well-intentioned maintenance person could be at risk of violating fair housing laws, ways to handle these without discriminating, and the importance of documentation. This interactive session Includes how to fair-housing-proof your maintenance procedures, communicating with tenants who don’t speak your language or are hearing-impaired, what to do if a tenant has a communicable disease, how to deal with clutter, what to do about suspected child abuse and more . . .

Fair Housing: Maintenance Do's and Don'ts

Format: On-Site: 1 – 1½ hours or Virtual: 90 minutes

Focus: (Recommended for all staff – both managers and maintenance.) Maintenance personnel come into contact with residents more than anyone else on site. And if they are not careful, their interaction with a resident or a potential resident could be misunderstood and result in a fair housing violation. This session includes a review of Fair Housing basics and explores typical situations where the well-intentioned maintenance person could be at risk of violating fair housing laws, ways to handle these without discriminating, and the importance of documentation. Includes a checklist for assessing whether company policies are providing the guidance a maintenance person needs plus a special focus on sexual harassment and communicating with persons with disabilities.

How to Write an (Approvable) Affirmative Fair Housing Marketing Plan

Format: On-Site: 1 – 1½ hours or Virtual: 90 minutes

Focus: In the past three years Gwen has prepared, reviewed, and revised more than 200 AFHMP’s for national companies and non-profits in numerous states for HUD, RD, and state agencies. Let her show you how it’s done. This webinar takes the participants through the process of completing an AFHMP -- including learning how to navigate the Census Bureau’s new tools - data.census.gov and geocoding.geo.census.gov. Learn how to interpret the data, identify community contacts, work with HUD, RD, or, when applicable, the state agency, and expedite the approval process. Includes guidance on how to do the 5-year review and document the file to prove it

How to Implement an AFHMP

Format: On-Site: 1 – 1½ hours or Virtual: 90 minutes

Focus: So, you’ve written your Affirmative Fair Housing Marketing Plan and HUD, RD or the State Agency has approved it. Now what? Bring the plan you are trying to implement and we will dissect it together. Even if you didn’t write the plan but are the one on site having to implement it, this course is also for you! This course reviews where the information came from and what it means, teaches you how to implement and train staff on the plan, keep and organize records, track results, and prove ongoing compliance. We will also discuss how to perform the 5-year review of the plan, how to determine if the plan needs to be revised, and how to report the changes or lack of changes to HUD.

504 Coordination (with or without a named “504 Coordinator”)

Format: On-Site: 1 – 1½ hours (Overview)
4-hour workshop (In-Depth)
Virtual: 90 minute (Overview)
4-hour session or two 2-hour sessions (In-Depth)

Focus: Section 504 provides special protections to persons with disabilities who reside in HUD, HOME and RD funded properties. The penalty for non-compliance with Section 504 is loss of all federal funding. The responsibility for coordinating 504 compliance applies to all covered properties – regardless of the number of employees and regardless of whether or not one person has been named as the “504 Coordinator”. This course teaches the duties and responsibilities that properties must fulfill, who must perform them, how to define the specific role of a 504 coordinator when one is required, and how to manage 504 monitoring and compliance efficiently and effectively to prevent complaints and findings.

Fair Housing 101

Format: On-Site: 4 hour Workshop or Virtual: One 4-hour session or two 2-hour sessions

Focus: Fair Housing basics plus problem solving exercises and activities. Includes (1) Why Fair Housing? (2) Protected Classes and Prohibited Activities, (3) Section 504, (4) Familial Status (5) Persons with Disabilities, and (6) Key differences among HUD, HOME, RD, LIHTC, and Conventional property rules.

Reasonable Accommodation

Format: On-Site: 1 – 1½ hours or Virtual: 90 minutes

Focus: Live-in aids, assistance animals, assigned parking . . . Fair Housing laws require owners/managers of rental housing to make reasonable accommodations for persons with disabilities when a rule, policy or practice interferes with the person’s right to use and enjoy their dwelling or when an accommodation will enable the tenant to comply with the lease, house rules and other requirements of tenancy. What is reasonable? What is necessary? When and how do you verify that the accommodation is related to the disability? What are the limitations on the Owner/Manager responsibility to provide the accommodation? What do you do when lease violations persist or result from the accommodation? Get the answers to these and other questions by reviewing the applicable laws and applying them to real-world examples and solutions.

Accessibility Requirements

Format: On-Site: 1 – 1½ hours or Virtual: 90 minutes

Focus: Fair Housing Act Accessibility Guidelines (FHAAG), Americans with Disability Act Accessibility Guide (ADAAG), Uniform Federal Accessibility Standards (UFAS). Which ones apply to HUD? RD? Tax Credits?” Conventional Market Rate properties? What are the requirements for new construction? For existing properties? What makes a property “new”? And most importantly - which ones apply to my property and what does that mean for me?

LEP Plans and Fair Housing

Format: On-Site: 1 – 1½ hours or Virtual: 90 minutes

Focus: HUD recently reminded us that failure to provide meaningful access to persons with Limited English Proficiency could be a violation of the Fair Housing Act. Why? Because national origin is a protected class. HUD and RD properties are required to periodically look at the LEP profile of their residents and market area and update their plan to provide meaningful access. But even a tax credit or market rate property could be in trouble if LEP persons face barriers to applying. Come to this session and learn what to do about LEP.

New Guidance on Service and Emotional Support Animals (moved to FH)

Format: On-Site: 1 – 1½ hours or Virtual: 90 minutes

Focus: HUD’s notice FHEO-2020-01 advises owners and managers on how to evaluate and approve or deny an applicant’s or resident’s reasonable accommodation request for an assistance animal. Find out what HUD says about on-line verifications and websites that sell ESA certifications. Learn the steps HUD recommends for processing requests for service animals versus requests for emotional support animals and requests for animals “commonly kept in households” versus requests for “unique animals”. Learn how to revise your current policies and procedures in order to utilize the guidance to the benefit of your property, your residents, and your management team.