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