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Waters Requests Review of Disparate Impact Rule

Following HUD's announcement of the Department’s final rule on the disparate impact standard under the Fair Housing Act, House Financial Services Committee Chairwoman Maxine Waters (D-California) has called on President Trump and HUD Secretary Dr. Benjamin Carson to reconsider. Suggesting that the new rule could make it more difficult to prove cases of housing discrimination, Waters said in a statement, "Disparate impact claims have been critical to holding industry and private actors accountable for the discriminatory impacts of their policies and practices."

Secretary Carson announced the Department’s final rule on the disparate impact standard on September 10.

“The disparate impact standard allows victims of housing discrimination to seek justice in the courts by putting a stop to practices that appear neutral on their face, but that have the impact of discriminating against protected classes of people," Waters explained.

"Disparate impact claims have been critical to holding industry and private actors accountable for the discriminatory impacts of their policies and practices ... The new rule shifts the burden of proof from the perpetrators of discrimination onto the victim, making it significantly more difficult for victims of housing discrimination to prevail in court and ultimately making it easier for discriminatory policies and practices to plague our housing markets."

In its public issuance of the "Final Rule" HUD stated that the change "establishes a uniform standard for determining when a housing policy or practice with a discriminatory effect violates the Fair Housing Act and provides greater clarity of the law for individuals, litigants, regulators, and industry professionals."

Carson discussed the change back in July, when it first was recommended.

“After reviewing thousands of comments on the proposed changes to the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) regulation, we found it to be unworkable and ultimately a waste of time for localities to comply with, too often resulting in funds being steered away from communities that need them most,” he said.

Carson said the Trump Administration has established programs such as Opportunity Zones that "are driving billions of dollars of capital into underserved communities where affordable housing exists, but opportunity does not."

Carson stated at the time that "programs like this shift the burden away from communities so they are not forced to comply with complicated regulations that require hundreds of pages of reporting and instead allow communities to focus more of their time working with Opportunity Zone partners to revitalize their communities so upward mobility, improved housing, and home ownership is within reach for more people," he said.

"Washington has no business dictating what is best to meet your local community’s unique needs,” Carson added.

You can read Chairwoman Waters' full statement here.

About Author: Christina Hughes Babb

Christina Hughes Babb is a reporter for DS News and MReport. A graduate of Southern Methodist University, she has been a reporter, editor, and publisher in the Dallas area for more than 15 years. During her 10 years at Advocate Media and Dallas Magazine, she published thousands of articles covering local politics, real estate, development, crime, the arts, entertainment, and human interest, among other topics. She has won two national Mayborn School of Journalism Ten Spurs awards for nonfiction, and has penned pieces for Texas Monthly, Salon.com, Dallas Observer, Edible, and the Dallas Morning News, among others.
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