Washington D.C. – The Department for Housing and Urban Development is proposing to weaken protections against discrimination in housing, residential leases, and mortgage lending. The proposal, sent to Congress on July 29, would significantly undermine long-standing legal protections against housing discrimination.
The Trump plan would require a new and overly complex five-part test to show housing discrimination through disparate impact. In contrast, under current law, victims of housing discrimination may prove Fair Housing Act violations by showing that, even in the absence of a discriminatory intention, a housing practice has a disproportionately negative impact on a protected class.
“The Trump proposal erects evidentiary barriers for consumers suffering from unintentional housing discrimination. Instead of addressing America’s housing challenges, the President is trying to make it easier for landlords and lenders to discriminate on the basis of race, gender or other protected classes,” said Chris Peterson, CFA’s Director of Financial Services.
Under current law, consumers can prove discrimination under the Fair Housing Act by showing that a practice actually or predictably results in a discriminatory outcome, regardless of intent, or disparate impact on a protected class. Today, consumers can win a discrimination action by showing that, even if a discriminatory practice serves a “substantial, legitimate, nondiscriminatory interest,” that interest could be served by a practice with a “less discriminatory effect,” meaning that consumers can successfully argue that lenders and landlords should take actions that lead to the least amount of discrimination.
The Consumer Federation of America is an association of more than 250 non-profit consumer and cooperative groups that was founded in 1968 to advance the consumer interest through research, advocacy, and education.