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Advocates Oppose HUD Proposal to Gut Protections Against Housing Discrimination


October 16, 2019 | by Bridget Hayman


Ken Walden

Managing Attorney

(312) 640-2136

The Trump administration, through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), has launched an aggressive attack on civil rights protections. It proposes to gut an important tool available under the federal Fair Housing Act to challenge and address housing discrimination.

This tool, known as disparate impact, has long been used to address the policies of housing providers, financial institutions, insurance companies, and other entities that are neutral (i.e., do not appear to be discriminatory), but have the effect (often unintentional) of discriminating against people of color, people with disabilities, and other disenfranchised groups.

As HUD is well aware, access to housing is a cornerstone of individual, family, and community well-being. As a nation, we hold dear the principle that housing access should not be limited by a person’s race, color, national origin, religion, sex, or disability, or the fact that one has children. This principle is embodied in the Fair Housing Act, which prohibits intentional discrimination and “neutral” (and often unintentional) policies that limit housing opportunities based on one’s protected class. That principle will absorb a tremendous blow if HUD’s newly proposed disparate impact framework moves forward because it will gut the ability to challenge neutral policies that discriminate against a protected class.

Access Living, Chicago Area Fair Housing Alliance, Metropolitan Planning Council, Housing Action Illinois, Housing Choice Partners, South Suburban Housing Center, HOPE Fair Housing Center, Chicago Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights, Northside Community Resources, Housing Opportunities & Maintenance for the Elderly, Alliance to End Homelessness in Suburban Cook County, Wilmette Justice Team, and Vennmedia have long worked to promote policies that advance affordable, accessible, and integrated housing opportunities for people with disabilities, people of color, immigrants, victims of abuse, the formerly incarcerated, and others. 

HUD’s proposal threatens the gains made by such communities and breaches its long-standing mission to promote fair housing throughout the country.  HUD is the primary federal institution that works (and frankly exists) to promote open housing markets, combat housing discrimination, and prevent illegal segregation.  Sadly, the proposed rule eviscerates HUD’s commitment to champion those pursuits.

Please tell HUD you oppose this proposed rule by clicking this link —   Please submit your comment on or before this Friday, October 18, 2019.