Housing Secretary Ben Carson Must Not Discontinue Disparate Impact Protections

October 16, 2019

Disability Justice, Fair Housing, News

Wheelchair ramp sign

We strongly oppose the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s proposed rule to discontinue disparate impact protections, which have been constant and effective tools for preventing housing discrimination.

HUD wants to rewrite and weaken regulations governing “disparate impact” lawsuits, which use housing statistics to demonstrate that a neutral-sounding policy or method employed by a landlord, bank, insurer or local government ends up discriminating against racial minorities, seniors, the disabled, families with children or other protected groups.

NYLPI Disability Justice Program Advocate Suhali Mendez wrote to HUD Secretary Ben Carson today:

Although the federal Fair Housing Act was passed more than 50 years ago, countless people continue to face discrimination when it comes to their housing needs. Having the disparate impact tool remain is a requisite to preserve the civil rights of vulnerable communities and eradicate discrimination that continues to be present. This tool has been efficient in addressing discriminatory practices in areas of apartment rentals, property insurance and home lending, and it allows housing to be accessible to all individuals.

The recommended rule would serve as a destructive onslaught toward vulnerable communities, as well as laws to counteract discrimination. Housing is a human right and it would be a monumental obstruction to go forward with attacking this very important protection. It is imperative that the Trump administration withdraw this proposed rule immediately, in order to protect fair housing, as well as to sanction fair housing and fair lending laws, in order to make housing equitable to all.

If this proposed rule stands, people with disabilities will be disproportionately affected. For example, a landlord could attempt to exclude applicants who don’t hold full-time jobs. This action would disparately impact people with disabilities (or seniors) who disproportionally fall into the category of those who may not work full-time, but can still afford an apartment.

You can read the full letter here.

Update, October 18: Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced his opposition to the rule change, sharing our position.

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