Fair Housing Act

HUD Guidance on discriminatory refusals to rent to tenants with criminal records

Now that the Supreme Court has definitively found that the federal Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. §§3601-3631, prohibits practices that have a disparate impact on protected groups, see Tex. Dept of Hous. & Comty. Affairs v. Inclusive Comtys. Project, Inc., 135 S. Ct. 2507 (U.S. 2015), consequences of that decision are becoming more clear. On April 4, 2016, the Office of General Counsel for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development...

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Supreme Courts affirms disparate impact claims under the Fair Housing Act (with a caveat)

The United States Supreme Court announced its decision in Tex. Dep’t of Hous. & Cmty. Affairs v. Inclusive Communities Project, Inc., 2015 WL 2473449, — U.S. — (2015), upholding disparate impact claims under the Fair Housing Act (FHA), 42 U.S.C. §3601 et seq. The case involved a challenge to criteria used by a state agency on where to give tax credits that subsidize construction of low-income housing. Plaintiff is a nonprofit organization that promotes housing for low-income families. It claimed that the...

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Fair Housing Act's Disparate Impact Claims at Issue

The Supreme Court has taken certiorari in a Fifth Circuit case to address the question of whether disparate impact claims are available under the Fair Housing Act (FHA), 42 U.S.C. §§3601 et seq. Tex. Dep't of Hous. & Comty. Affairs v. The Inclusive Communities Project, Inc., 135 S.Ct. 46 (2014), on appeal from The Inclusive Communities Project, Inc. v. Tex. Dep't of Hous. & Comty. Affairs, 747 F.3d 275 (5th Cir. 2014). All federal Circuit Courts to address the issue have...

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Housing discrimination by town officials still a problem

A number of recent cases has revealed the persistence of racial discrimination affecting municipal decisions about housing. The Sixth Circuit found, for example, in Hidden Village, LLC v. City of Lakewood, Ohio, 734 F.3d 519 (6th Cir. 2013), that town officials may have engaged in a campaign of harassment designed to induce African American residents to move out of town. The case involved a Lutheran religious organization that helped young people released from foster care or juvenile detention to enter...

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Settlement of Mount Holly case prevents Supreme Court from addressing disparate impact claims under the Fair Housing Act

The Supreme Court has twice in recent years accepted certiorari in cases to decide whether disparate impact claims are available under the Fair Housing Act. Both cases settled before the Supreme Court could determine the issue. The most recent was Mt. Holly Gardens Citizens in Action, Inc. v. Twp. of Mt. Holly, 658 F.3d 375 (3d Cir. 2011). The prior case was...

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Municipal attempt to induce residents to move because of race violates Fair Housing Act even if they do not move

The Sixth Circuit has held that §3617 of the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. §3601 et seq., prohibits conduct intended to encourage residents to move even if they are not denied housing or induced to move. Hidden Village, LLC v. City of Lakewood, 2013 WL 5811642 (6th Cir. 2013). The basic provisions of the FHA (embodied in §3604) prohibit denying housing for discriminatory reasons, providing unequal and discriminatory terms and conditions for housing, and expressing an invidious preference for buyers or...

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City ordinance intended to exclude a group home can constitute intentional discrimination even if there is no evidence of an impact on the group home

The Ninth Circuit affirmed that an action intended to discriminate in violation of the Fair Housing Act (FHA) creates a claim for which relief can be granted even if it has not had any other impact on the plaintiff. Pac. Shores Props., LLC v. City of Newport Beach, 2013 WL 5289100 (9th Cir. 2013). In this case, a city passed an ordinance intended to exclude group homes for recovering alcohol and drug users; it had terms that had the practical effect of prohibiting group homes from...

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HUD issues final regulations defining disparate impact claims under the Fair Housing Act

The Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD) has issued final regulations defining the standards to make a claim that a neutral policy has a disparate impact on a protected group in a manner that constitutes unlawful discrimination under the federal Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. §3601 et seq. The regulations are at 24 C.F.R. 100.500 and can be found here. The rule affirms that disparate impact claims are available under the Fair Housing Act and identifies an approach to proving them to respond to the variation that...

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Rhode Island passes Homeless Bill of Rights

The Rhode Island legislature passed a statute likely to be signed by the Governor called the "Homeless Bill of Rights." The act amends Rhode Island's fair housing law by adding "housing status" to the list of prohibited kinds of discrimination and defines housing status to mean "the status of having or not having a fixed or regular residence, including the status of living on the streets or in a homeless shelter or similar temporary residence." It guarantees access to public spaces (including sidewalks and public buildings) on the same terms as others and grants a certain amount of...

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