York Dispatch: EDITORIAL: Latest Trump salvo targets fair housing

York Dispatch, August 30, 2019 : EDITORIAL: Latest Trump salvo targets fair housing

The latest example of putting corporation-style people over the flesh-and-blood type comes via the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development, which wants to do away with Civil Rights-era protections to make it exceedingly more difficult to file legal complaints of housing discrimination.

Under the pending rule — formally published in the Federal Register on Monday and set to take effect after a 60-day comment period — parties alleging housing discrimination would have to clear a litany of bureaucratic hurdles to make their case.

Specifically, reports the New York Times, the new rule “would force those initiating lawsuits not only to show that a specific housing policy has a discriminatory effect, but also to show that the effect is ‘arbitrary, artificial and unnecessary’ in achieving a ‘legitimate objective.’ There must also be a ‘robust causal link’ between the specific policy and the discriminatory effect.”

“HUD’s proposal makes it far more difficult for those injured by stealth discriminatory policies to prove discrimination,” community-investment organizer Jesse Van Tol told ABC News. “The bar was already set high and HUD‘s proposal would put it in the stratosphere — it really strains credulity.”

So does HUD Secretary Ben Carson, who defended the policy by saying — falsely — that it “increases Americans’ access to fair and affordable housing.”

The proposal couldn’t come at a worse time. While the 1968 Fair Housing Act was intended to address exclusionary zoning laws, unfair insurance and mortgage-lending policies, and other discriminatory practices, homeownership by African-Americans is at an all-time low.

The bottom line: Discriminatory housing practices have real and detrimental financial, physical and societal impacts for minority communities. And they are far from a thing of the past.

Yet, Trump, Carson and HUD would deliberately heighten the hurdles by protecting the very institutions whose discriminatory practices have created the homeownership gap — the very institutions that lobbied so hard for the new rules.

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