In an extreme move against a core civil rights protection, Trump’s Department of Housing and Urban Development is proposing a rule that would allow financial institutions, insurance companies, and housing providers to engage in covert discriminatory practices by dramatically weakening disparate impact liability under the Fair Housing Act.
For more than 45 years, “disparate impact” has been a crucial legal tool to fight discrimination and ensure equal housing opportunity. This protection means that companies and individuals covered under the Fair Housing Act must choose policies that apply fairly to all people. Some policies that seem neutral in theory can unfairly exclude certain groups of people or segregate particular communities in practice. This protection allows us to identify and prevent harmful, inequitable, and unjustified policies, thereby ensuring that everyone can be treated fairly.
If the Trump administration gets its way, a landlord could evict victims of domestic violence based on common leases that hold all tenants, even victims, responsible for crimes in their homes. A bank could charge excessive fees or rates to certain groups seeking home mortgage loans, creating high barriers to homeownership for people of color or people with disabilities. An apartment building could impose occupancy restrictions forcing families with children to rent more expensive apartments.
Attacks on the civil rights of communities of color, women, immigrants, the LGBTQ community, people with disabilities, the faith community, and families with children have been an underlying theme of many Trump administration policies. This attack is no different. The devastating effect of this proposed rule would extend well beyond housing, jeopardizing civil rights protections in education, employment, healthcare, the environment, transportation, and the criminal justice system. We must not allow this rule to move forward.
This campaign is led by the National Fair Housing Alliance, The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund, Inc., Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, Poverty and Race Research Action Council, American Civil Liberties Union, and Center for Responsible Lending. As national civil rights organizations, we are united by our belief in equality and fairness, our desire to educate the public on important civil rights protections, and our commitment to #DefendCivilRights from those looking to weaken them. We know that where people live impacts every aspect of their lives — access to good jobs, quality schools, a clean and healthy environment, accessible transportation, stable credit, and much more. Everyone should have a place to call home that connects them to the opportunities they need to thrive.