HUD, NEBRASKA REACH AGREEMENT ON LANGUAGE ACCESS TO HOUSING PROGRAMS

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WASHINGTON - The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced today that it has reached an agreement with the state of Nebraska Department of Economic Development (DED), settling HUD's findings that the state agency failed to sufficiently ensure that persons with limited English proficiency (LEP) have meaningful access to HUD-funded programs.

Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, and national origin in programs and activities receiving federal financial assistance. This includes a requirement to ensure that programs and activities can be accessed by persons with limited English proficiency, to avoid discrimination based on national origin.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Nebraska's Hispanic population with limited English proficiency increased 77 percent between 2000 and 2010. In addition, the state is also experiencing growing populations of persons of Sudanese and Somali origin. In July 2011, HUD reviewed the Nebraska DED's operations for compliance with civil rights requirements and found that it had failed to comply with its LEP obligations under Title VI.

Between 2008-2010, the state of Nebraska administered more than $54.5 million in HUD funding. HUD's review found that the state did not take any steps to provide access for LEP persons to its HUD-funded programs, nor did it translate program documents, provide translation or interpretation services, or conduct any analyses to identify the needs of eligible LEP persons. HUD's compliance review also determined that the state did not develop a language assistance plan to provide services to LEP persons, and revealed deficiencies in the Nebraska DED's monitoring of grant sub-recipients to determine if they were meeting their Title VI requirements.

"This agreement with the state of Nebraska reflects our mutual commitment to ensuring that all people have meaningful access to HUD-funded programs, regardless of their national origin," said Bryan Greene, HUD Acting Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity. "HUD will continue to work with state governments and our other partners to ensure that persons with limited English proficiency aren't unlawfully denied the services they need."

Under the terms of the agreement, the Nebraska DED will conduct an analysis and develop a language assistance plan identifying the LEP populations it serves and the ways in which it will provide language assistance, including document translation, interpretation at meetings, and community outreach. The Nebraska DED will also provide Title VI training to employees and sub-recipients of federal funding.

HUD published a "Notice of Guidance to Federal Financial Assistance Recipients Regarding Title VI Prohibition Against National Origin Discrimination Affecting Limited English Proficient Persons" in 2007.

April is Fair Housing Month. If you have been trying to buy or rent a home or apartment and you believe your civil rights have been violated you can report it online at www.hud.gov/fairhousing, call (800) 669-9777, TTY 1-800-927-9275 or by downloading HUD's free housing discrimination mobile application, which can be accessed through Apple devices, such as the iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch.

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HUD's mission is to create strong, sustainable, inclusive communities and quality affordable homes for all. HUD is working to strengthen the housing market to bolster the economy and protect consumers; meet the need for quality affordable rental homes: utilize housing as a platform for improving quality of life; build inclusive and sustainable communities free from discrimination; and transform the way HUD does business. More information about HUD and its programs is available on the Internet at www.hud.gov and http://espanol.hud.gov. You can also follow HUD on twitter @HUDgov, on facebook at , or sign up for news alerts on HUD's News Listserv.

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