Supreme Court Rules to Continue Utilizing “Disparate Impacts” as a Standard to Enforce Fair Housing

News: The Supreme Court ruled Thursday June 25, 2015, 5-4 in favor of Disparate Impact 2015 that HUD can continue to utilize Disparate Impact as the standard for challenging housing laws, practices and polices.

Context: HUD uses Disparate Impact as their standard for enforcing the Fair Housing Act of 1968. Disparate Impact allegations can be made based on the determination that certain practices have a discriminatory effect on certain populations–recognizing the systematic, institutional or even subversive discriminatory thinking that can go into establishing certain policies. Outwardly discriminatory laws, like those banned individuals of certain races from moving to certain neighborhood, are obviously open to HUD enforcement activities under the Fair Housing Act of 1968; Disparate Impact cases go a step further to regulate policy that is not explicitly discriminatory, but may have a discriminatory effect. This case was brought by the Inclusive Communities Project against the State of Texas in response to the State’s perpetuation of racial segregation in its Low Income Housing Tax Credit program.

Effect on Practitioners: Can help ensure that housing practices, polices and laws are more fair in accordance with the Fair Housing Act of 1968 because local jurisdictions can now be held to the Disparate Impact bar. Please see the official Supreme Court notes on the ruling and the Inclusive Communities Project press release for more details about the case.

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