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Fair Housing Rollbacks Threaten Economic Opportunity in the Deep South

September 11th, 2020

JACKSON, MS – On the Friday evening of Labor Day weekend, the U.S. Housing and Urban Development (HUD) finalized changes stripping away critical elements of the law protecting people from facing discrimination in the housing market. Key to enforcement of the Fair Housing Act of 1968 is the use of disparate impact, an analysis to show racially discriminatory impacts of a race neutral policy. The use of disparate impact is well-established by the courts, and was codified in a 2013 HUD rule. In 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld disparate impact as a means of enforcement under the Fair Housing Act. HOPE joined with other credit unions and civil rights partners urging the Court to uphold the use of disparate impact. Last week’s actions by HUD repeal and replace the 2013 rule with provisions that undermine longstanding case law and make it harder for people to address acts of discrimination in the housing market.  This move by HUD follows actions earlier this summer to undue the affirmatively further fair housing rule, which seeks to address racial segregation as required by the Fair Housing Act.

Statement by Hope Policy Institute:

“Our country’s history of discrimination in the housing market and practices that still persist today makes clear why fair housing protections are still needed.  The federal government’s role in facilitating racially discriminatory housing practices is well-documented, excluding generations of Black families from homeownership, while the federal government specifically promoted such opportunities for white families.  Fifty years after the passage of the Fair Housing Act, there are still wide racial disparities in Black and white homeownership, mortgage loan denials, and predatory lending in our region. For example, in each of the five Deep South states, the homeownership gap between black and white households in 2017 exceeded 20 percentage points. In Mississippi, for example, denial rate for Black residents earning over $150,000 is higher than the denial rate of whites earning between $30,000 and $50,000. The other area of concern is the pervasive lingering effects of redlining and racial segregation, both of which the Fair Housing Act is a tool to address. Through its actions to weaken the Fair Housing Act, HUD puts more people at risk of facing housing discrimination, hampers economic opportunity, and contributes to the widening wealth gap in the Deep South.”

Additional Resources:

HOPE’s Comment Opposing HUD Disparate Impact Rule

HOPE CEO Bill Bynum Op-ed, “Fair Housing is Good For Business”

About HOPE 

HOPE (Hope Enterprise Corporation, Hope Credit Union and Hope Policy Institute) provides financial services; aggregates resources; and engages in advocacy to mitigate the extent to which factors such as race, gender, birthplace and wealth limit one’s ability to prosper. Since 1994, HOPE has generated more than $2.5 billion in financing that has benefitted more than 1.5 million people in Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Tennessee.

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