Fair Housing in Pennsylvania

Learn about PHRA, housing discrimination, and how to file a complaint.

The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is dedicated to ensuring its residents have access to decent, safe and affordable housing of choice free, from discrimination. In so doing, the Commonwealth is committed to safeguarding against practices of discrimination in employment, housing and public accommodations. The Pennsylvania Human Relations Act, as amended (PHRA) protects against unlawful discrimination of individuals or groups on the basis of race, color, sex, familiar status, religious creed, ancestry, age, national origin, handicap or disability, use of guide support animal because of blindness, deafness or physical handicap of the user or because the user is a handler or trainer of support or guide animals ((43 P. S. § § 951—963). As a condition of receiving federal program funds, states and localities must certify that they are affirmatively furthering fair and equal opportunity in housing for individuals and groups protected by Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968 (Fair Housing Act) and its amendments.

In addition to furthering fair housing, DCED and its partner grantees of federal funds carry out an analysis of the impediments to fair housing choice in their jurisdictions. The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania completed its most recent Analysis in 2017 (AI). Included were recommendations that the Commonwealth can undertake to improve fair housing in partnership with local jurisdictions.

Limited English Proficiency (LEP) & Notices

Most individuals living in the U.S. read, write, speak, and understand English. There are many, however, for whom English is not their primary language. For people in this situation, their opportunities to obtain housing, financial assistance, recreation, community activities or other important life benefits can be cut off by their inability to speak, read or understand the language. It is the responsibility of DCED, its grantees, sub-grantees, and vendors to guarantee that any eligible resident/applicant seeking assistance from a program that has been funded with federal funds is given the necessary information by the municipality/agency administering the funded program in a language in which they are accustomed to communicating. Federally assisted grantees are required to make reasonable efforts to provide language assistance to ensure meaningful access for Limited English Proficient (LEP) persons to the grantee’s programs and activities. To accomplish this, DCED has adopted a Language Access Plan to provide direction on how information is to be made available to persons of limited English proficiency. Read more about DCED’s full language plan and translated documents.

Filing Complaints

The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is an equal opportunity lender, employer, and provider of services and activities. It does not engage in or condone activities which illegally discriminate based on race, color, religion, sex, age, national origin, disability, familial status, or any other protected classification under federal or state law. DCED, and its grantees must make every effort to avoid discrimination and provide equal opportunities in the administration and implementation of programs and services that are federally funded as well as any employment opportunities.

Further, any person who believes that he or she has been discriminated against or any representative of such a person may file a confidential complaint with the local government, the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission and/or HUD’s Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity in Washington DC. The written complaint must be filed within 180 days of the alleged discriminatory act unless good cause can be shown for the delay. The complaint must show the name and address of the offending party, along with the details of the events leading to the charge of discrimination.

Grantee Resources

Grantees must annually publish an advertisement re‐designating a Fair Housing Officer within their community. This advertisement must also inform residents of their rights under the fair housing law and that cases of suspected housing discrimination are to be reported to the Fair Housing Officer. Fair Housing complaints must be in writing and must contain such information and be in such form as the Fair Housing Officer requires. Upon receipt of such a complaint, the Fair Housing Officer must furnish a copy of the same to the person or persons who allegedly committed or about to commit the alleged discriminatory housing practice. Within thirty (30) days after receiving a complaint, or within thirty (30) days after the expiration of any period of reference under subsection (c), the Fair Housing Officer must investigate the complaint and give notice in writing to the person aggrieved whether he intends to resolve it.

Visit our Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity library to view documents and resources related to fair housing and equal opportunity in Pennsylvania.