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NFHTA Digest: October 2022


NFHTA is pleased to release the latest edition of the NFHTA Digest!

The October edition includes:

  • Highlights and Materials from the October National Fair Housing Forum
  • Interview with Karlo Ng, Director on Gender-based Violence Prevention and Equity, Office of the Secretary, HUD
  • Pro Tips for Navigating Sensitive Investigations
  • Upcoming NFHTA Courses, Forums, and Other HUD-funded Events

Register for the FHIP FY 2022 Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) Training Webinar on November 3, 2022. This webinar will provide updated information regarding Private Enforcement Initiative, Fair Housing Organizations Initiative, and the Education and Outreach Initiative. It will also include information that will be applicable to new and existing grantees.

Understanding Survivors' Experiences

Survivors experiences with and responses to violence are informed by their backgrounds and unique circumstances. Using first-person narratives, an intersectional lens, and current research on trauma and mental health, the October National Fair Housing Forum: Violence Against Women Act, Part 1: Understanding Survivors' Experiences established a foundation upon which participants built their own knowledge and cultural competencies when working with survivors.

The forum included the diverse perspectives of experts in the field, a survivor advocate with lived experience, HUD leadership, and someone from the Biden-Harris Administration.

If you missed out on the October discussion, you can now view all the materials!

We recommend you watch this insightful discussion with experts in the field so you can:

  • Understand the basic dynamics of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking using an intersectional lens
  • Understand the unique needs of those experiencing domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking
  • Learn how to support survivors

Mark your calendars for the January National Fair Housing Forum covering Part 2 of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) series on January 18, 2023 from 2:00-4:00 PM ET. More information will be available soon!

"Our role is to help survivors navigate and help them identify access and resources. But we're supporting them. Their choices. Not judging them for what they have or haven't done. We haven't lived their lives, and we have to remind ourselves of that"

Condencia Brade, Managing Director, MBinti Strategies; Strategic Director, National Organization of Sisters of Color Ending Sexual Assault

"I always suggest that the first thing that we do is to make sure we identify what our biases are. That we have to understand where those issues of privilege, and discrimination have come from. We have to do a self-examination. And if we do that self-examination, we then need to make sure that we recognize and value the broad base of the population that we are working with."

Umi Hankins, Training Director, Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, Division of Victim Services

"There's so many important facets to this work, and one of the most critical issues is access to safe and affordable housing, and it's really making sure that we're addressing these issues of economic security, and making sure that survivors have options to live with safety."

Rosie Hidalgo, Special Assistant to the President and Senior Advisor on Gender-Based Violence, White House Gender Policy Council

Fair Housing Voices: Karlo Ng

Karlo Ng is the Director on Gender-based Violence Prevention and Equity in HUD’s Office of the Secretary. In this capacity, Karlo serves as a senior advisor on policy matters involving gender-based violence to Secretary Marcia Fudge. Previously, Karlo was the Director of Legal Initiatives at the National Alliance for Safe Housing where she focused on legal and policy strategies to ensure safe shelter and housing for gender-based violence survivors. Karlo has an extensive background in advocating for survivors’ housing protections as well as providing national technical assistance and training on issues impacting the rights of survivors and immigrants in the federal housing programs. She also has litigated impact cases under the Fair Housing Act and related civil rights laws. Karlo is an immigrant who grew up in public housing in Boston.

Now, let’s learn more about Karlo:

What led you to pursue gender-based violence prevention work?

After college, I worked as a legal assistant at the Asian Outreach Unit of Greater Boston Legal Services (AOU), which provides free legal assistance to low-income Asian immigrants throughout Boston. Most of the clients I worked with spoke little to no English and relied on the AOU staff’s advocacy on their behalf to access the legal system. I worked with attorneys who helped immigrant survivors of family violence apply for VAWA self-petitions and U visas so that they could obtain legal immigration status without relying on their abusers.

In this context, I talked to survivors about the devastating personal, social, and economic impacts that family violence had on them. The survivors often did not know where to turn to for assistance, including public benefits and services that they qualified for. And, even when they did, they weren’t able to access them because of language barriers. This really underscored for me the layers of obstacles that survivors face when trying to escape the violence, and how a lot of our systems are not set up in ways that help them access services and programs.

How do you see your work as the Director of Gender-based Violence Prevention and Equity intersecting with fair housing work?

The Fair Housing Act (FHA) has long provided critical housing protections for survivors of domestic and sexual violence. The FHA ensures basic anti-discrimination protections for domestic and sexual violence survivors in the housing context so that survivors do not face adverse housing decisions because of the violence that they’ve experienced. Additionally, the FHA provides safeguards so that survivors are not discriminated against on the basis of other protected characteristics, such as race, national origin, disability, religion, and familial status. It’s important that survivors can continue to leverage HUD’s enforcement authorities under the FHA to prevent discriminatory barriers when accessing and maintaining housing.

What is the most satisfying part of the work you do?

I enjoy working with HUD and interagency colleagues as well as stakeholders to think outside of the box to address policy challenges that are responsive to the housing needs and challenges of survivors.

What is one piece of advice you have for a new practitioner working in civil rights?

Always keep who you’re ultimately serving and impacting in mind. Even if you have individual clients you’re representing in a piece of litigation, there will be many people that your case will ultimately affect. If possible, talk to these people about your work and let them tell you what they think is or is not needed for their communities.

What is the most emergent issue that you see within housing and gender-based violence?

I think that an emerging issue is how federal agencies will collaborate and coordinate to meet the wide range of housing and economic needs of survivors. Under the Biden-Harris Administration, preventing and addressing gender-based violence are major priorities that will take an all-of-government approach. The federal government’s response must reflect the diversity of this population. Survivors are not a monolith – for example, a survivor who has been abused by their partner will have different experiences than a survivor who was sexually assaulted as a minor by a family member. Further, the way that survivors experience and respond to violence are informed by their background and unique circumstances. Therefore, a housing option that one survivor considers “safe” may not be “safe” for another survivor.

One of the biggest challenges we have as policymakers is developing resources that address the spectrum of survivors’ housing needs, which can include emergency shelter, transitional housing, rental assistance, and homeownership assistance. And these needs are often related to other economic needs, such as childcare, education, job training, healthcare, and temporary financial assistance. As such, agencies will have to work together to streamline efforts and leverage resources to deliver proper programs and services for survivors.

Karlo Ng Bio
Karlo Ng

Director on Gender-based Violence Prevention and Equity
Office of the Secretary, HUD

View Karlo's Bio

Pro Tips for FHIPs and FHAPs: Navigating Sensitive Investigations

Collecting information for an investigation requires asking in-depth and probing questions. This process may mean that the client will need to disclose sensitive and/or deeply personal experiences, which can be uncomfortable for both parties. Approaching those interactions with intention and respect is crucial and can help mitigate triggering trauma or distress associated with their experience.

Here are some suggestions for navigating sensitive investigations:

Have a Conversation

The U.S. Department of Justice’s Office for Victims of Crime advises that it is “ to use a conversational approach rather than a rapid series of questions in order to obtain preliminary information.” They further explain that by using open-ended questions, you may be able to collect more detailed information rather than “yes” or “no” responses. Active listening also plays a critical role by conveying that you are understanding and processing what they are saying.

Provide Clarity

Explain what your conversation will entail and provide the rationale for why you’ll be asking about certain information. This sets the stage and assures the client that these are necessary questions to understand what happened to be able to determine next steps. Provide multiple opportunities for the client to ask questions and express concerns they have about moving forward.

Reframe Questions to be Trauma-Informed

When necessary, typical questions can be reframed to give “the person being interviewed the opportunity to share more information about what they are able to recall.” For example, rather than saying “Start at the beginning and tell me what happened,” reframe the request and empower the individual by asking “where would you like to start?”

Offer Information and Resources

Take some time to explain their rights under the Fair Housing Act and other local, state, or federal laws like the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). Leaving them with that valuable information demonstrates that you care and are committed to giving them the time they need to understand their protection rights. You also want to inform them about other support services and resources in your community to further illustrate your dedication to offering support.

Upcoming Events

NFHTA Instructor Led Courses

Register Now | Fundamentals of Fair Housing - Intake

November 7-10, 2022 | 1:00 PM – 4:00 PM ET

Register Now | Basics of Fair Housing

December 12-15, 2022 | 1:00 PM – 4:00 PM ET

NFHTA National Fair Housing Forums

Save the Date: January National Fair Housing Forum

January 18, 2023 | 2:00 PM – 4:00 PM ET

Other HUD-Funded Events

FHIP FY 2022 Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) Training Webinar

November 3, 2022 | 1:30 - 3:00 PM ET

This webinar will provide updated information regarding Private Enforcement Initiative, Fair Housing Organizations Initiative and the Education and Outreach Initiative. It will also include information that will be applicable to new and existing grantees.

Academy Event Calendar

Are you interested in learning more about what NFHTA offers? View the full Academy Event Calendar to learn more about NFHTA courses and events designed to help build the knowledge, skills, and capacity of HUD’s FHIP and FHAP organization partners.

View the full Academy Calendar