Magazine article Developments in Mental Health Law

Virginia Fair Housing Law Protects Handicapped Persons

Magazine article Developments in Mental Health Law

Virginia Fair Housing Law Protects Handicapped Persons

Article excerpt

The Virginia Fair Housing Law was amended this year to prohibit housing discrimination because of elderliness, familial status or handicap. It continues to prohibit discrimination because of race. color, religious creed, national origin or sex. The change was to bring state law into conformity with Title VIII of the federal Civil Rights Act of 1968. Title VIII was amended recently by the Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988 to extend its protection to handicapped persons and others. Under the federal law the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development will refer complaints of housing discrimination to state or local agencies which have adopted statutes or ordinances providing rights and remedies substantially similar to federal law. The amendments to Virginia law were necessary to preserve state authority to investigate these complaints prior to HUD action.

The new state law does not define handicap, although it does say that all provisions are to be construed consistently with federal law. The federal definition' of handicap is set forth in a new HUD regulation, 24 C.F.R. [section] 100.201:

      "Handicap" means, with respect to a person, a
   physical or mental impairment which substantially
   limits one or more major life activities; a record of
   such an impairment; or being regarded as having
   such' an impairment. This term does not include
   current, illegal use of or addiction to a controlled
   substance. For purposes of this part, an individual
   shall not be considered to have a handicap solely
   because that individual is a transvestite.

This definition is quite similar to that which used to prohibit discrimination in federally funded housing subject to [section] 504 of the federal Rehabilitation Act of 1973. except for exclusions of current drug users and transvestites. …

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