FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 16, 2020
Business Roundtable’s Call to Support Fair Housing and Civil Rights Earns Praise from National Fair Housing Alliance, Center for Responsible Lending
Association for 208 of the Nation’s Largest Corporations Lauded for Call to Restore Major Tools for Eliminating Discrimination and Advancing Housing Equity
Washington, D.C. – Today, the National Fair Housing Alliance and Center for Responsible Lending, two of the nation’s leading groups working for equitable lending, commended the Business Roundtable for supporting disparate impact and Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) – two major tools for eliminating discrimination and structural barriers to equal housing opportunities.
The Business Roundtable (BRT), which is comprised of 208 of the nation’s largest corporations, released its Advancing Racial Equity and Justice report which includes six pillars for addressing structural barriers that work to systematically limit opportunities for people of color to achieve important life goals, like gainful employment, stable housing, or a quality education.
Under its housing pillar, the BRT identified several major priorities to ensure equal opportunity and access to affordable housing. Those include advancing fair housing and addressing discrimination by “reinforcing the importance of disparate impact under the Fair Housing Act, reinstating Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing, and banning source of income discrimination affecting renters.” Disparate impact is a crucial legal tool for uncovering and stopping discrimination and for advancing civil rights. For instance, it can be used to compel lenders to use newer credit scoring models that treat underserved groups fairer. It can also be used to urge municipalities to drop Zero-Tolerance ordinances that can increase homelessness among survivors of domestic violence. AFFH can be used to tackle policies that perpetuate segregation. It can also be used to persuade government officials to upgrade infrastructure or stop the placement of toxic and hazardous materials in communities of color.
“Congress passed the Fair Housing Act in 1968, just seven days after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and included the AFFH provision to help eliminate the structural barriers put in place by centuries of race-based housing and lending policies that denied Black, Asian, Native, and Latino Americans the right to access housing and financial services. Policies put in place by federal and local governments as well as private industry not only created residentially segregated and disinvested communities but prohibited people from being able to acquire and pass on wealth to future generations. AFFH was specifically designed to counteract continuing and long-lasting harms of discriminatory policies and practices. We will collaborate with the BRT to advance their fair housing priorities,” said Lisa Rice, President and CEO of the National Fair Housing Alliance.
“The Business Roundtable has shown leadership in calling for real commitment to fair housing as part of rectifying racial injustice. They rightly recognize that rooting out discrimination and enforcing civil rights requires strong disparate impact enforcement and a legal standard to facilitate that enforcement. They also recognize the importance of reinstating Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing as part of supporting equal opportunity for all. We look forward to working with the Roundtable to make these goals a reality,” said Mike Calhoun, President of the Center for Responsible Lending.
Both disparate impact and Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing have come under severe attack by the Trump administration. On September 4th, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) released a final rule eviscerating the disparate impact tool. This rule will make it profoundly harder for victims of discrimination to challenge policies and systems that unjustifiably block people from the opportunities they deserve. On September 8th, HUD’s new AFFH rule went into effect. The new rule, which replaces a stronger 2015 rule, fails to carry out the fundamental provisions of the Fair Housing Act’s AFFH mandate, and lets communities off the hook for fostering segregation, not improving water systems in communities of color, or zoning communities of color to allow industrial hazards to be dumped in those areas.
“Both the AFFH provision and disparate impact tool are necessary for expanding opportunities for people of color and improving the U.S.’s economic position. According to a report from Citi, a member of the BRT, if racial gaps in credit, business lending, wages, and education are closed, the U.S. would add roughly $5 trillion to our GDP over the next 5 years,” added Mike Calhoun.
“Stifling productivity and fettering access to credit for underserved groups is like cutting off our nose to spite our face. Dismantling systemic racism is not a zero-sum game. Eliminating discrimination from our markets increases and expands opportunities for us all. The members of the Business Roundtable understand that our fates are all intertwined and if we improve the lot of those who have been too long locked out of opportunities for advancement, we improve our collective destiny,” stated Lisa Rice.
About The Center for Responsible Lending
Headquartered in Durham, NC, CRL is a nonprofit, non-partisan research and policy organization dedicated to protecting homeownership and family wealth by working to eliminate abusive financial practices. Visit responsiblelending.org/ to learn more.
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. Visit nationalfairhousing.org to learn more.