Herring pushes HUD on housing discrimination protections
Attorney General Mark R. Herring is urging the HUD to reinstate a rule on disparate impact liability that would protect people from discrimination in housing
Herring joined a coalition of 23 attorneys general in submitting the comments to HUD.
“No Virginian should ever have to worry about being discriminated against when looking for affordable, safe housing for themselves and their families,” Herring said. “The Trump-era disparate impact rule not only went against previous Supreme Court rulings, but it also has made it easier for landlords to discriminate against potential tenants – and we cannot allow this to continue. I have made fighting for Virginian’s civil rights a top priority, and that includes protecting them from discrimination in housing, education, employment, and other aspects of their lives, and I will continue to do so.”
The disparate impact rule, established originally in 2013 under the Fair Housing Act, protects consumers against housing and lending practices that end up harming people based on their race, color, religion, national original, sex, disability, and familial status.
HUD is proposing to re-establish the 2013 rule and revoke an unlawful 2020 replacement that had serious legal defects, failed to provide specific protections for people who were being discriminated against, and made it more difficult for many valid legal claims to proceed.
Attorneys general rely on the disparate impact rule to combat discrimination, challenge housing policies that have a discriminatory effect, and ensure more equal housing opportunities. In their comments, the attorneys general contend that the reinstated rule better aligns with the Fair Housing Act and judicial precedent.
The attorneys general also suggest that HUD should consider further strengthening the rule in the future and consider the additional discriminatory effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and economic hardships on people across the country.
Previously, Herring and a group of 17 attorneys general sent a letter urging HUD to retain the Obama-era disparate impact rule to protect individuals from housing discrimination. Herring also filed an amicus brief opposing the dismantling of an important rule that helps communities in Virginia, and around the country, increase access to high quality affordable housing free from discrimination.
Additionally, in 2014, Herring filed a brief with the U.S. Supreme Court to protect the nation’s fair housing enforcement programs against a challenge out of Texas that sought to end the use of “disparate impact analysis” to fight housing segregation and discrimination.
This year, Herring created the Office of Civil Rights within the Office of Attorney General to expand, enhance, and centralize his ongoing work to secure and expand the civil rights of Virginians, and to protect all Virginians from discrimination on the basis of race, religion, gender/gender identity, sexual orientation, disability, veteran status, or other protected status.
The designation of the Office of Civil Rights was the culmination of a multiyear plan to expand the authority and resources dedicated to protecting the civil rights of Virginians, and to place the protection of civil rights at the center of the mission of the Office of Attorney General.
Joining Herring in sending these comments are the attorneys general of California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington.