Proposed Trump Rule Weakens Housing Discrimination Law

The Trump administration could make it more difficult to bring discrimination claims under the Fair Housing Act.

The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is proposing an update to HUD’s 2013 “disparate impact rule,” meaning plaintiffs would have a harder time bringing lawsuits alleging housing discrimination, according to the proposal.

In the proposal, plaintiffs would have a five-step qualifying process that begins with the plaintiffs having to prove that the policy is “arbitrary, artificial and unnecessary.” The second step added for the plaintiffs is the need to show a “robust causal link” that connects discriminatory behavior to the outcome of the housing policy.

“Claims relying on statistical disparities must articulate how the statistical analysis used supports a claim of disparate impact by providing an appropriate comparison which shows that the policy is the actual cause of the disparity,” the proposal states.

Plaintiffs also would have to prove that the policy “has an adverse effect on members of a protected class” for the third step.

“This element would require a plaintiff to explain how the policy or practice identified has a harmful impact on members of a particular ‘race, sex, familial status or national origin,’” the proposal states.

The fourth step would require the plaintiff to show that the policy is discriminatory by demonstrating that the disparity is significant. The final element involves proving “that the complaining party’s alleged injury is directly caused by the challenge[d] policy or practice.”

“This element seeks to codify the proximate cause requirement under the Fair Housing Act that there be ‘some direct relation between the injury asserted and the injurious conduct alleged,’” the proposal reads.

The proposal was submitted by the agency on July 29 for a 15-day review period. It has not been released to the public yet but it will be sometime in August, NPR reported.

In April, the Trump administration issued a proposal that could prevent undocumented immigrants from receiving public housing. The proposal would strengthen public housing regulations. By implementing this, it could have an adverse effect on undocumented individuals who are looking for housing.

HUD stated in a fact sheet that it would screen all public housing residents under the age of 62 through the Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements program, which is an electronic system operated by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services to help verify someone’s immigration status. Those who are undocumented could lose their housing assistance, but could “obtain [a] temporary deferral of termination of assistance for up to 18 months,” according to the fact sheet.

The agency currently estimates there are approximately 32,000 undocumented immigrant households receiving housing assistance from the government. In the fact sheet, the agency estimated that “there may be millions of qualifying US citizens and legal US residents languishing on waitlists for housing assistance.” HUD Secretary Ben Carson wrote about his support for the proposed policy on Twitter.

“Thanks to @realDonaldTrump’s leadership, we are putting America’s most vulnerable first. Our nation faces affordable housing challenges and hundreds of thousands of citizens are waiting for many years on waitlists to get housing assistance,” Carson previously wrote.

The National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLHIC) told The Washington Post that HUD’s findings are false and estimates 22,000 to 25,000 households who are receiving public housing have family members who are not US citizens.

In a previous statement. NLHIC President and CEO Diane Yentel called HUD’s proposal “cruel.” Yentel said separating families from one another would not decrease waitlist time.

“HUD does not subsidize undocumented immigrants who live in public housing. Every household must have an eligible citizen or legal resident in it, and ineligible members are not subsidized,” Yentel in a previous statement. “HUD falsely claims the change is proposed out of concern for long waiting lists, when they know well that it would do nothing to free up new units.”

“The true purpose may be part of this administration’s effort to instill fear in immigrants throughout the country.”

Some politicians are trying to end segregation in city housing. In May, New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams introduced The Fair Housing Act to the New York City Council, which would conduct “racial impact studies” to determine if a rezoning project in the city would “further fair housing within the meaning of the Fair Housing Act,” the bill read.

About the Author

Maria Perez is a breaking news writer for The North Star. She has an M.A. in Urban Reporting from the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism. She has been published in the various venues, including Newsweek, Juvenile Justice Information Exchange, City Limits, and local newspapers like The Wave and The Home Reporter.