Working with Applicants and Residents with AIDS or HIV
Individuals with AIDS, or the HIV virus that causes AIDS, continue to battle stereotypes and misconceptions. The idea that having such individuals at your site could threaten the health and safety of other residents and your staff is unfounded. Yet it persists.
Federal laws and regulations in most states prohibit discrimination against those with AIDS or HIV. Fair housing laws protect these individuals, just as they protect many others who live with a disability. AIDS/HIV is a protected disability. Even people who test positive for HIV, but who don't yet show symptoms of AIDS, are protected.
HUD is committed to helping those living with HIV/AIDS find and remain in housing that is stable and safe. Also, HUD prohibits housing discrimination based on any disability (enforced by HUD through the Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988). If you discriminate against these individuals in any way, you could be heavily fined by HUD and/or sued by the applicant or resident. Even if you think you are safeguarding others at your site, you may not exclude these individuals from consideration to reside at your site.
Guard Against Prohibited Practices
As a reminder, HUD says you may not:
Refuse to rent to an applicant solely or in part because the person has AIDS/HIV.
Require applicants to undergo a physical exam or medical testing, such as for AIDS, as a condition of admission.
Impose different conditions on applicants or residents with AIDS/HIV, or on those you think may have HIV/AIDS. For example, you cannot restrict an individual with AIDS/HIV from using the services and amenities of your site. He or she is entitled to the same use and enjoyment as other residents.
Evict a resident just because he or she has AIDS/HIV.
Harass residents with AIDS/HIV. This has happened with the hope that the resident will move out. But such actions are clearly against the law. Even if you, as an owner or manager, don't directly harass a resident with AIDS/HIV, but you know your staff has done so, you are accountable. You are responsible for the fair housing violations of your staff—especially if you are aware of the behavior and you do not try to stop it. The same is true if you are aware that other residents are harassing a resident with AIDS/HIV and you do nothing to stop it.
Deny the request of an applicant or resident with AIDS/HIV for a “reasonable accommodation” due to the disability. Symptoms of AIDS/HIV are not always visible, so someone dealing with it may not readily appear to need any accommodation. But you may not make inappropriate or discriminatory comments such as, “You don't look disabled,” or ask questions such as “What is wrong with you?”
You can, however, require the resident to provide verification from his or her healthcare provider that he or she meets the definition of a person with a disability. This is a step you would take with any resident who is requesting an accommodation due to a disability.
Within the division of Community Planning & Development, HUD manages the Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS (HOPWA). HOPWA is the only federal program dedicated to addressing housing needs for low-income persons who are living with HIV/AIDS and their families.
HOWPA funds are distributed to states and cities by formula allocations and made available as part of the area's consolidated plan. Metropolitan areas with a population of more than 500,000 and at least 1,500 cumulative AIDS cases are eligible for HOPWA formula grants. In addition, some sites are selected in national competitions to serve as service delivery models or operate in non-formula areas. Grantees partner with nonprofit organizations and housing agencies to provide housing and support to beneficiaries.
Persons living with HIV/AIDS and their families may require housing that provides emergency, transitional, or long-term affordable solutions. A variety of HOPWA programs and projects provide short- and long-term rental assistance, operate community residences, or make use of other supportive housing facilities.