Nation’s Standard for Assessing Discriminatory Housing Policies Has Languished Since Last Year 
(Washington, D.C.) – The U.S. Department of Housing of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) published a proposal on Friday that would restore the protections of its 2013 rule which protects groups from discriminatory housing policies. The move could set a standard for evaluating disparate impact claims under the Fair Housing Act. Under this rule, a policy or practice may be considered discriminatory if it has a disproportionate adverse impact against a particular group or perpetuates residential segregation.

The following are statements from civil rights and housing experts at the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law:

“The Fair Housing Act’s disparate impact framework is an essential tool in the fight against structural racism in housing,” said Damon Hewitt, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. “The framework makes it possible to address how modern-day discrimination works against the interests of housing justice in ways that are just as sinister as instances of outright racial animus. The civil rights community applauds the leadership of President Biden and Secretary Fudge in moving expeditiously to restore this important component of the federal government’s commitment to ending housing discrimination.”

“HUD’s announcement is positive step toward ensuring that victims of discrimination have the ability to challenge practices ranging from blanket bans on renting homes to people with felony convictions to exclusionary zoning,” said Thomas Silverstein, associate director with the Fair Housing and Community Development Project at the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. “The department should build on this recommitment to the Fair Housing Act by reinvigorating its own systemic enforcement efforts.”

The Trump administration repealed the 2013 rule in September of last year, substituting new provisions that were not supported by case law and that would have made it virtually impossible to bring successful disparate impact claims. Contrary to the Trump administration’s assertions in its 2020 rule, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the Fair Housing Act does allow disparate impact claims and is consistent with HUD’s 2013 rule.