The Trump administration is proposing a rule change that would make it virtually impossible to prove housing discrimination against women, people of color, and the disabled.
Curbed reported that Trump’s rule change would:
The new rule would dramatically shift the burden of proof to the plaintiff in housing discrimination cases, making such lawsuits “impossible,” according to numerous fair housing advocates.
Under HUD’s proposed rule, this three-step process is scrapped for a five-step burden of proof that falls almost entirely on the plaintiff, who would have to show that the policy: is “arbitrary, artificial, and unnecessary;” has a “robust casual link” with disparate impact on a protected class; causes a “significant” adverse effect on members of a protected class; is directly linked to the disparate impact in the plaintiff’s “alleged injury.”
The proposal also carves out new defenses for landlords and lenders who use algorithmic models to determine factors like credit-worthiness or risk. Defendants can have a disparate impact case dismissed if they can show that the inputs of the model are not highly correlated to protected class, or if the algorithm was generated by a third party. If the third party tests the algorithm for fairness and rules it fair, the defendant is shielded from liability in disparate impact cases.
It makes sense that Trump would seek to de facto legalize housing discrimination. He and his father were busted in the 1970s for housing discrimination against African-American and Latino renters.
Trump’s rule change would have the real-world impact of legalizing housing discrimination, by making it virtually impossible for protected classes to win housing discrimination lawsuits.
“This proposed rule would eviscerate the key protections of the Fair Housing Act, and make it virtually impossible for communities of color to prevail in lawsuits challenging housing discrimination,” said Kristen Clarke, President and Executive Director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law said in a statement provided to PolliticusUSA. “At a time when the Black homeownership rate has barely increased in the past 50 years, and we face ongoing housing segregation and a national affordability crisis, we need the full protections of the Fair Housing Act more than ever. We will vigorously challenge this proposed rule, and continue to fight housing discrimination nationally.”
Trump is trying to take America back to the 1950s. He wants to make it more difficult for minorities to rent or buy their own homes.
The rule change is ugly and discriminatory. The good news is that it can be undone by the next Democratic administration. The bad news is that if this rule is enacted, virtually legal housing discrimination will accelerate until January 2021.