FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 24, 2020
Contact: Izzy Woodruff | 202-898-1661 | IWoodruff@nationalfairhousing.org
Trump Administration Guts Fair Housing Protections
NFHA Condemns Harmful Blow to Civil Rights Protections
Washington, D.C. — Today, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) finalized its harmful “disparate impact” rule, which will gut civil rights protections for vulnerable communities and make it exceedingly harder to challenge systemic racism by housing providers, financial institutions, and insurance companies that deprive people of the services and opportunities they need.
Disparate impact is a longstanding legal tool to fight discrimination and ensure equal housing opportunity under the Fair Housing Act. In a disparate impact case, a person can challenge unjustified policies or practices that harm people and treat them unfairly. The Trump administration’s final rule severely weakens this civil rights tool making it harder to tackle and root out systemic discrimination.
“At its core, this rule promotes gerrymandering, redlining, and segregation, three historically racist and discriminatory practices. And the final rule by HUD is even more damaging than we previously thought,” said Lisa Rice, president and CEO of the National Fair Housing Alliance (NFHA). “In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, the ensuing economic crisis, and as our nation confronts the racism that has plagued us since our founding, the Trump administration is making the heartless and ruthless decision to strip civil rights protections from people who need it most. NFHA is going to use every available tool, including legal action, to fight this rule and defend vulnerable communities.”
Based on an analysis by NFHA, HUD’s final rule:
- Puts up overwhelming obstacles to prove discrimination: Victims of discrimination will face a drastically higher burden to prove a disparate impact claim under the Fair Housing Act, making it virtually impossible to succeed. Perpetrators of housing discrimination need only claim, without proof, that a challenged policy is valid while victims, without the same access to information, are required to debunk a slew of excuses.
- Puts profits above all else: Language in the rule suggests that a policy that is profitable could be immune from challenge for its discriminatory impact — with the burden on discrimination victims to show that a company can make at least as much money without discriminating.
- Perpetuates systemic discrimination: The disparate impact tool helps eliminate the vestiges of segregation and discrimination. HUD’s rule could prevent victims of discrimination from holding companies accountable for policies that perpetuate systemic discrimination.
- Provides a brand new defense for algorithmic bias and other practices: The rule provides defenses from disparate impact scrutiny for a broad swath of practices – including algorithmic bias. The new exemption makes it irrelevant whether predictive tools unnecessarily exclude people of color or other groups protected by the Fair Housing Act. This will discourage companies from working to adopt technologies and algorithmic-based systems that are more fair and equitable.
We cannot allow these blatant civil rights violations to continue. NFHA demands the Trump administration reverse course and avoid causing further harm to millions of Americans. Visit DefendCivilRights.org to learn more and find out how you can speak out against this devastating attack on civil rights.
About The National Fair Housing Alliance
Founded in 1988, NFHA is a consortium of more than 200 private, nonprofit fair housing organizations and state and local civil rights agencies from throughout the United States. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., NFHA works to eliminate housing discrimination and ensure equal housing opportunity for all people through leadership, education, outreach, membership services, public policy initiatives, community development, advocacy, and enforcement.