42 days to make your voice heard for housing justice. 

The housing segregation with which we are all living was purposefully designed and codified in law. Throughout our country’s history, White families were given certain advantages, like government secured loans with a low down payment, that Black families were denied. White buyers had their choice of brand new homes, while Black buyers, even those who were able to cover the unreasonable down payments (50% of the purchase price of the home or more), were shut out of many neighborhoods and even entire towns. 

The passage of the Fair Housing Act in 1968 began to change some of these policies. It made it illegal to refuse to rent or sell a dwelling based on race, color, national origin, or religion. In 1974, sex was added, and in 1988 a set of amendments added protections for families with children and people with disabilities.

Of course, it is not as if discrimination ended in 1968, or ‘74, or ‘88. But with the help of those protections, victims of discrimination had more opportunity for support and recourse if they were denied housing in certain communities. 

Structural oppression runs deep. Landlords and lenders have figured out ways to get around these regulations or utilize policies that achieve the exclusion of certain groups without making it obvious. In those cases, the Fair Housing Act allows individuals or groups to file a lawsuit using the ‘Disparate Impact’ rule. 

The Disparate Impact rule says that, even if it seems to apply equally to everyone, if a policy impacts protected classes more than others, it is discriminatory. A new proposal from HUD would effectively dismantle this important and needed rule. It would shift the burden of proof from impact to intent. A plaintiff would not only need to show that a policy results in discrimination, but that a housing provider chose the policy specifically to discriminate. Proving intent is a high hurdle to clear, since intent is often in a person’s heart and mind and leaves no paper trail.

We have 42 days remaining to submit official comments to HUD, asking them to reject this proposed rule change. People of Color, people living with disabilities, and all those who have experienced housing discrimination need you to stand with us. Please find resources to make it easy for you to do so at this online resource provided by the National Housing Law Project and other ally organizations.

by Sarah Owsley Townsend, Policy and Advocacy Lead – Empower Missouri; Anthony E. Rothert, Interim Executive Director ACLU of Missouri; and Nimrod Chapel, Jr., President – Missouri State Conference of the NAACP

Leave a Reply