The Fair Housing Act of 1968 was passed by Congress six days after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in order to prohibit housing discrimination based upon race, religion, color, and national origin. Subsequent amendments added gender, family status, and disability as protected categories. For fifty years the Fair Housing Act has stood as a living monument to Dr. King and the life he gave to the struggle for human freedom and dignity.
The proposed Disparate Impact regulation released by HUD on August 19th is an undisguised effort to re-write decades of judicial interpretation of the Fair Housing Act. Lobbyists for banking and insurance interests are pushing the new regulation in order to make it harder for victims of housing discrimination to obtain relief in court.
The proposed regulation would require victims of housing discrimination to meet a higher burden for challenging practices and procedures that appear neutral on the surface. Many such procedures result in unfavorable outcomes for racial and religious minorities, single mothers and their minor children, disabled individuals and those targeted because of their national origin. The use of disparate impact analysis to unmask such procedures as discriminatory has long been approved by the United States Supreme Court as necessary to achieve the purposes of the Fair Housing Act.
A news report about a mob of hoodlums attempting to deface a 50-year-old monument to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. would go viral in thirty minutes. Yet a mob of lobbyists is attempting just such an act through the manipulation of the HUD regulatory process. Those who care about housing equality and the legacy of Dr. King must mobilize and fight back.
To learn more or to join in the fight to defeat the proposed regulation, contact the Mississippi Center for Justice Housing Law Campaign at 228.702.9985 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
John Jopling is the Housing Law Director for the Mississippi Center for Justice.