February 8, 2013

Reaffirming the Fair Housing Act

Great strides have been made toward ending discrimination in housing since passage of the Fair Housing Act in 1968. Unfortunately, discrimination continues, often in subtle forms. I’m proud to announce that today HUD took an important step forward in our continuing efforts to expose and end discrimination in housing, through the issuance of a rule that formalizes a national standard for determining whether a housing practice violates the Fair Housing law based on an unjustified discriminatory effect.

As we’ve learned over the years, housing discrimination comes in many forms. Discrimination doesn’t have to be intentional in order to have a damaging effect. And it doesn’t have to be explicit in order to create, increase, reinforce or perpetuate segregated housing patterns because of race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, or national origin as the law prohibits.

HUD, which has the responsibility and authority to interpret and enforce the Fair Housing Act,  has long interpreted the Act to prohibit housing practices with an unjustified discriminatory effect, if those acts actually or predictably result in a disparate impact on a group of persons, or create, increase, reinforce or perpetuate segregated housing patterns.

Indeed, this well-established legal precedent has been critically important in helping HUD remedy discriminatory practices in home rentals, sales, and financing nationwide. The rule released today reaffirms and formalizes this existing legal framework of the Fair Housing Act.

I’m pleased not only that we have adopted this rule, but also that it was accomplished through a transparent and inclusive process. For more than a year, HUD sought, received, and incorporated input based on comments from individuals, fair housing and legal aid organizations, Attorneys General, state housing finance agencies, public housing agencies, public housing trade associations, insurance companies, financial institutions, and numerous other entities. It was a process that gives us confidence in this rule as a source of clarity and consistency for individuals, businesses, organizations, and government entities in understanding their responsibilities under, and compliance with the law.

Read the final rule.

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