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9/12/12
Economic Justice | Housing Discrimination
Washington, D.C. Advocacy | Fair Housing

Through its own advocacy and leadership of the national fair housing coalition, LDF has urged the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to issue regulations in several different areas of fair housing.  HUD has recently issued several of the requested regulations. LDF has high hopes that these regulations will significantly improve enforcement of the Fair Housing Act, which is designed to promote racial integration in our communities and provide equal housing for all. 

Since the 1970s, courts have embraced the principle that housing discrimination may be shown through proof that the housing practice in question disproportionately impacted a class of persons protected under the Fair Housing Act.  Until 2011, however, HUD had never issued a regulation to formalize this longstanding interpretation.  Then, in November 2011, HUD issued a proposed regulation on the use of the disparate-impact theory under the Fair Housing Act.  Read LDF’s comments on this proposed regulation here.  In February 2013, HUD responded to comments and issued its long-awaited final regulation implementing the discriminatory effects standard and setting forth the standard of proof for disparate-impact claims. 

Additionally, for more than a decade, LDF has urged the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to issue regulations clarifying the obligations of public housing programs and federal housing fund grantees to “affirmatively further fair housing” (AFFH).  On July 19, 2013, HUD issued a proposed rule regarding state and local governments’ AFFH obligations.  Importantly, under the proposed rule, AFFH requires jurisdictions that receive federal funds to “tak[e] proactive steps beyond simply combating discrimination to foster more inclusive communities and access to community assets for all persons protected by the Fair Housing Act.”  Proposed Rule, § 5.152 (to be codified at 24 C.F.R. pt. 5).  LDF is concerned, however, that the rule does not clearly articulate the central purpose of the AFFH obligation: to promote integration.  Additionally, the rule lacks robust performance standards and enforcement mechanisms.  Read LDF’s comments on the proposed AFFH rule here.

LDF joined over 35 national organizations in urging HUD to issue proposed regulations to clarify that all forms of harassment, including racial harassment, violate the Fair Housing Act.   Harassment in the housing context remains a huge problem.  Racial and sexual harassment is rampant, particularly in the rental market and in public housing.  While court decisions have established that harassment violates the Fair Housing Act’s ban on discrimination on the basis of race and sex, HUD has never issued regulations to establish its position on this issue.  Read the letter to Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Shaun Donovan.