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Executive Order Instructs HUD to Examine Disparate Impact Rule

HUD Building

President Joe Biden Tuesday issued a string of executive actions related to racial equality; those included a directive to the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to examine the effects of the September 24, 2020, rule entitled “HUD’s Implementation of the Fair Housing Act’s Disparate Impact Standard,” along with additional related instructions.

Biden's memorandum [1] acknowledged the historic role of the federal government in discriminatory housing policy.

The President asked HUD to reassess Trump-era edicts, such as the above-mentioned disparate impact rule [2], which made it harder for plaintiffs to meet the legal threshold for proving unintentional discrimination.

The definition adopted under Trump and former HUD Secretary Ben Carson would also grant defendants more latitude to rebut those claims [3], but a federal court has put the rule on hold [4] pending an ongoing court challenge, Politico reminds readers [5] in an article about today's executive orders.

Acting HUD Secretary Matthew E. Ammon says Biden's order represents an important step toward "redressing the federal government’s legacy of housing discrimination and securing equal access to housing opportunity for all."

Ammon says that acknowledging housing discrimination is the first step toward lifting barriers to safe affordable housing for all Americans.

"Racially discriminatory housing practices and policies have kept communities of color from accessing safe, high-quality housing and the chance to build wealth that comes through homeownership," he said. "To this day, people of color disproportionately bear the burdens of homelessness, pollution, climate-related housing instability, and economic inequality because of deliberate and systemic efforts to deny them fair and equal access to housing opportunities. "

During the signing ceremony at the White House, Biden said he believes the majority of Americans, no matter their political party, share these values.

"We have never fully lived up to the founding principles of this nation, to state the obvious, that all people are created equal and have a right to be treated equally throughout their lives."