Fair Housing Advocates Submit Comment Letter to HUD on Disparate Impact

The National Community Reinvestment Coalition (NCRC) and 45 additional community and fair housing organizations have submitted a joint comment letter to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) encouraging the department to maintain the disparate impact standard, which the agency has proposed to weaken.

Disparate impact has been a vital tool used by fair housing advocates to fight against policies that on the surface appear to be neutral but in practice have discriminatory effects on members of protected classes.

The letter, written by NCRC, was submitted October 18 to HUD as part of the public comment period for the department’s Notice of Proposed Rulemaking: FR-6111-P-02 HUD’s Implementation of the Fair Housing Act’s Disparate Impact Standard. 

“Fair housing agencies cannot uphold their obligations to enforce equal housing opportunity for all Americans if they, in effect, are unable to combat policies that have discriminatory effects,” the letter said. “Unfortunately, HUD’s proposed new rule imposes a large burden on plaintiffs in disparate impact cases under the Fair Housing Act, which creates barriers to enforcement that are contrary to the language and intent of the Fair Housing Act.” 

“The new burden-shifting mechanism put forth by HUD is an unnecessary change that would prevent virtually all disparate impact claims from succeeding.”

The proposed rule would also set up protections for businesses that use discriminatory algorithms.

“Corporations continue to use technology to discriminate against customers, often through the use of algorithms that exclude users by race or gender…Yet HUD’s new Rule has carved out exceptions for housing providers who use algorithms with discriminatory effects. The Rule provides safe harbors for defendants in fair housing cases who use algorithms that are produced, maintained or distributed by third parties,” the letter said.

View the list of signers, read the full letter:

https://ncrc.org/ncrcs-disparate-impact-letter-to-hud/

To request an interview with NCRC CEO Jesse Van Tol, contact Alyssa Wiltse-Ahmad.

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Redlining and Neighborhood Health

Before the pandemic devastated minority communities, banks and government officials starved them of capital.

Lower-income and minority neighborhoods that were intentionally cut off from lending and investment decades ago today suffer not only from reduced wealth and greater poverty, but from lower life expectancy and higher prevalence of chronic diseases that are risk factors for poor outcomes from COVID-19, a new study shows.

The new study, from the National Community Reinvestment Coalition (NCRC) with researchers from the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee Joseph J. Zilber School of Public Health and the University of Richmond’s Digital Scholarship Lab, compared 1930’s maps of government-sanctioned lending discrimination zones with current census and public health data.

Table of Content

  • Executive Summary
  • Introduction
  • Redlining, the HOLC Maps and Segregation
  • Segregation, Public Health and COVID-19
  • Methods
  • Results
  • Discussion
  • Conclusion and Policy Recommendations
  • Citations
  • Appendix

Complete the form to download the full report: