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HUD Releases Long-Awaited Regulation Implementing The Fair Housing Act’s Discriminatory Effects Standard

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: February 08, 2013

The Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law (Lawyers’ Committee) applauds the release today of the final Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) regulation entitled “Implementation of the Fair Housing Act’s Discriminatory Effects Standard.”  The proposed regulation, first published for comment in November 2011, formalizes the long and consistent interpretation of the Fair Housing Act by HUD, which has repeatedly determined that housing policies and practices can be determined to be discriminatory not simply through their intent, but also by their effect. 

This interpretation is consistent with the uniform interpretation of the Act by the federal courts of appeals, which have consistently held for over forty years  that liability under the Act may be established based on a showing that a neutral policy or practice either has a disparate impact on a protected group, or creates, perpetuates, or increases segregation.  Moreover, it creates a uniform national standard that should help harmonize the somewhat differing standards for proving discriminatory effect claims that now exist between some of the circuit courts of appeals.  The Lawyers’ Committee applauds HUD for providing a long needed regulation on the propriety of disparate impact claims under the Fair Housing Act and to clarify the standard of proof. 

 “This regulation will foster the goals of the Fair Housing Act and benefit the clients and constituents of our organization.  It provides a national standard for courts, housing providers, municipalities and the financial and insurance industries,” said Lawyers' Committee President and Executive Director Barbara R. Arnwine.

Where you live determines where you work and how you get there, your access to healthcare, and the school your child attends.  Unfortunately, policies and practices still exist that – intentionally or unintentionally – keep some people out of housing they can afford simply because of who they are.  As a national leader in combating housing and lending discrimination, the Lawyers’ Committee has long worked to eliminate housing discrimination and promote inclusive communities through private enforcement of the Fair Housing Act.   

“The importance of the discriminatory effect standard to effective and vigorous fair housing enforcement cannot be overstated,” said Joseph Rich, director of the Lawyers' Committee's Fair Housing and Fair Lending Project.  “This is illustrated by the breadth of cases relying on disparate impact claims.”

 Examples of cases relying on disparate impact claims are numerous and far-reaching and include:

 ·         Cases attacking zoning and land-use policies and decisions which result in both discriminatory denial of housing to minorities and the perpetuation of residential segregation;

·         A wide variety of cases attacking  lending and insurance policies which adversely affect groups protected by the Act; and

·         Cases challenging governmental redevelopment or demolition plans or policies that disproportionately displace minorities by eliminating lower income housing.

 The HUD press release on the regulation is available here

 About the Lawyers’ Committee

The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law (“LCCRUL”), a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, was formed in 1963 at the request of President John F. Kennedy to involve the private bar in providing legal services to address racial discrimination. We are celebrating our 50th anniversary in 2013 as we continue our quest of “Moving America Toward Justice.” The principal mission of the Lawyers' Committee is to secure, through the rule of law, equal justice under law, particularly in the areas of fair housing and fair lending; community development; employment; voting; education and environmental justice.  For more information about the LCCRUL, visit www.lawyerscommittee.org.

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 Note to Media:  To coordinate interview opportunities with Lawyers’ Committee staff, please contact Stacie Royster, 202-445-6101 or sroyster@lawyerscommittee.org

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