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Civil Rights and Housing Justice Groups Launch Websites for Responding to HUD’s Proposed Anti-Fair Housing Disparate Impact Rule

Seven civil rights organizations, led by the National Fair Housing Alliance, formed the Defend Civil Rights campaign and website to mobilize responses against HUD’s proposed changes to the current Disparate Impact regulation. Separately, the National Housing Law Project (NHLP), the Western Center on Law and Poverty and the Shriver Center on Poverty and Law launched the Fight for Housing Justice website to similarly mobilize opposition to the proposed changes to the Disparate Impact rule. The changes would make it virtually impossible for protected classes of people under the Fair Housing Act to raise claims that businesses, governments, and other entities are covertly engaging in policies or practices that disproportionately negatively impact them.

The websites offer Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs), fact sheets, links to media reports about the proposed rule, and portals for easily submitting comments to the Federal Register. Advocates are urged to periodically visit the websites because more materials will be added, including issue-specific fact sheets rooted in favorable court decisions since the landmark 2015 Supreme Court ruling in Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs vs. Inclusive Communities Project.

Advocates are urged to participate in a Twitter storm on Tuesday, August 27 between 1:00 and 2:00 p.m. ET. Some sample tweets are on the Defend Civil Rights Social Media Toolkit page.

HUD formally published in the Federal Register on August 19, proposed changes to the fair housing Disparate Impact rule that would make it far more difficult for people experiencing various forms of discrimination to challenge the practices of businesses, governments, and other large entities (see Memo, 8/19). As proposed, the current three-part “burden shifting” standard to show disparate impact would be radically changed to a five-component set of tests placing virtually all of the burden on people who are in “protected classes” – people of color, women, immigrants, families with children, people with disabilities, LGBTQ persons, and people of faith. The proposed rule also would provide special defenses for business practices that rely on statistics or algorithms.

NLIHC strongly opposes the proposed rule changes and will work with our fair housing, civil rights and housing justice partners to defend civil rights. Comments on the proposed rule changes are due by October 18. NLIHC will offer a sample comment letter for advocates to tailor for submitting comments.

The Defend Civil Rights campaign website is at: https://www.defendcivilrights.org

The Fight for Housing Justice campaign website is at: https://www.fightforhousingjustice.org/

The Federal Register version of the proposed rule is at: https://bit.ly/2ZalOvj

An easier to read version of the proposed rule is at: https://bit.ly/31LTrFM

NLIHC’s Preliminary Summary of Key Features is at: https://bit.ly/2MALi2r

NLIHC’s Side-by-Side of §100.500 is at: https://bit.ly/2yzdevq

A media statement by Diane Yentel, NLIHC president and CEO is at: https://bit.ly/31Lbwnf

More about disparate impact is on page 7-8 of NLIHC’s 2019 Advocates’ Guide