Equal Rights Center Lauds New HUD Disparate Impact Regulations

Equal Rights Center Lauds New HUD Disparate Impact Regulations

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – February 11, 2013 – (RealEstateRama) — The Equal Rights Center (ERC)—a national non-profit civil rights organization with 30 years of experience advancing equal housing opportunity—issued the following statement in support of the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) new regulations implementing the Fair Housing Act’s ‘discriminatory effects’ standard:

“This clear guidance from HUD on when the effects of a housing practice, policy or action violate the Fair Housing Act creates a uniform standard that can be understood and followed by housing providers and managers, real estate brokers, lenders, insurers, private housing organizations, and the courts,” said Don Kahl, Executive Director of the Equal Rights Center. “We hope that this will lead to fewer barriers, whether intentional or unintentional, to equal housing opportunity for all.”

Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, known as the Fair Housing Act, prohibits both intentional discriminatory acts, and facially neutral policies whose effect is to limit housing opportunities based on race, color, national origin, religion, or sex or for families with children and people with disabilities.

HUD’s new regulations establish a uniform standard for examining when facially neutral housing practices that have a discriminatory effect, sometimes called a ‘disparate impact.’ Claims of disparate impact have been recognized by 11 federal courts of appeals (all that have ruled on the issue) as an acceptable means of making a claim under the Fair Housing Act. Under HUD’s new regulations, disparate impact claims are to be governed by a three-step burden-shifting approach already adopted by many courts. Applying to both public and private entities, the new regulations clearly set out what has been HUD’s position on these types of claims since the Fair Housing Act was amended in 1988.

“These guidelines from HUD will greatly help to strengthen the case made by persons who may experience housing discrimination,” said John Baker, Program Manager of the ERC’s Fair Housing Program. “This is another tool to help advocate for their legal rights under Fair Housing Act, particularly with regard to reasonable accommodations and reasonable modifications, where persons with disabilities may encounter polices that are facially neutral, but in fact adversely impact persons with disabilities”

The Equal Rights Center is dedicated to promoting equal opportunity for all. With three decades of experience in advancing fair housing, the ERC works with government agencies, housing advocates and the housing industry to ensure that every family can choose where they live, free from discrimination.

To view the final rule click here.

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About the Equal Rights Center (www.equalrightscenter.org) Originally formed in 1983, the Equal Rights Center (ERC) is a national non-profit civil rights organization based in Washington, D.C. With members located in every state and the District of Columbia, the ERC works nationally to promote equal opportunity in housing, employment, and access to public accommodations and government services for all protected classes under federal, state, and local laws.

About the Department of Housing and Urban Development (www.hud.gov) Created by President Johnson on September 9, 1965, the mission of the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) includes fostering “a decent, safe, and sanitary home and suitable living environment for every American.

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  1. The “disparate impact” approach to enforcing the Fair Housing Act means that you can be found liable for illegally discriminating in a housing-related matter by following some policy that has a disproportionate effect, even though the policy is nondiscriminatory by its terms, in its application, and in its intent. So, for example, if a bank’s lending policy for home loans results in, say, a higher percentage of Asians being accepted than Latinos, then it can be held liable (banks have been actively opposing the regulations, unsuprisingly).

    The disparate-impact approach is bad law and bad policy, especially in the housing area, as discussed in this brief:
    http://www.jdsupra.com/legalnews/brief-amicus-curiae-of-pacific-legal-fou-74521/ .

    Here’s hoping the Supreme Court grants review in a pending case out of Mt. Holly, N.J. — which raises this issue and in which a petition for review has been filed – and puts an end to this nonsense.

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