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Politics & Government

Federal Housing Regulators Clarify Anti-Discrimination Policy

The US Department of Housing and Urban Development has issued a new rule regarding the enforcement of the Federal Fair Housing Act and instances of discriminatory impact. It’s currently illegal to deny housing to anybody based on ethnicity, disability, the number of children then have, and other factors. But, some regulations that don’t seem discriminatory, but impact certain groups disproportionately, are still in effect in some areas.

“Maybe you might have a zoning ordinance which limits housing to single-family residents. That’s not an ordinance that is discriminatory on its face, but it may limit the kinds of people who can move into your municipality and if that produces a discriminatory effect, then you need to change those policies,” said Peter Harvey, executive director of the Fair Housing Partnership of Greater Pittsburgh.

Other ordinances include zero-tolerance policies that place limits on police visits to residences, which can unfairly impact victims of domestic violence. Harvey said non-discrimination policies are an important part of the federal code, because where one lives is important.

“Americans have always seen our country as a land of opportunity, but a lot of that opportunity is determined by where you live,” he said, “what kind of services you get, what kind of schools you go to, what your amenities are, your recreation, all those things.”

This rule is a clarification of the so-called disparate impact standard. That law has been in place for decades, and nothing within it has been changed.