Washington, DC - HUD’s final rule on disparate impact is the latest abhorrent action by the Trump administration to gut civil rights and fair housing protections. The final Disparate Impact rule practically eliminates a critical enforcement tool for combatting discrimination, further restricting access to housing for people of color, seniors, people with disabilities, families with children, victims of domestic violence, and others.
The Fair Housing Act prohibits housing policies and practices that have a discriminatory effect, even if there was no obvious intent to discriminate. Policies and practices that have the effect of creating disparate impact can be just as harmful to society as outright intentional discrimination. Far too often, policies at the federal, state, and local levels perpetuate segregation and prevent equal access to housing.
Eleven U.S. Courts of Appeals and the Supreme Court have ruled that violations of the Fair Housing Act can be established through a disparate-impact standard of proof. In writing its 2013 Disparate Impact regulation, HUD codified these decades of federal court jurisprudence to establish uniform “burden-shifting” standards for determining when a housing practice or policy with a discriminatory effect violates the Fair Housing Act. These standards were implicitly adopted by the Supreme Court and confirmed in subsequent court cases.
HUD has now created a new and much higher bar for proving discriminatory outcomes, effectively eliminating disparate impact as a means of combatting discrimination. These changes are designed to make it nearly impossible for communities of color to challenge discriminatory effects in housing and beyond. With this latest attack on fair housing and civil rights, the Trump administration continues its pattern of attempts to weaken the federal government’s responsibility to uphold its fair housing obligations under the law.