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Affordable Housing , Community Development , Federal News

Supreme Court Upholds Disparate Impact Standard in Fair Housing Case

30 June 2015
The Supreme Court of the United States

In the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs v. Inclusive Communities Project, the Supreme Court, by a 5 to 4 vote, upheld the use of the “disparate impact” standard for discrimination cases brought under the Fair Housing Act. The ruling of the case is significant in upholding the disparate impact standard, which states housing practices or policies that appear to have the effect of discrimination, whether intentional or unintentional, are prohibited. These include zoning laws and other housing constraints that deter minorities from living in certain areas, especially in white suburban neighborhoods, which have better access to schools, food, and employment. 

Justice Anthony Kennedy delivered the majority opinion. He stated that:

“Much progress remains to be made in our Nation’s continuing struggle against racial isolation. In striving to achieve our ‘historic commitment to creating an integrated society,’ we must remain wary of policies that reduce homeowners to nothing more than their race. But since the passage of the Fair Housing Act in 1968 and against the backdrop of disparate impact liability in nearly every jurisdiction, many cities have become more diverse. The FHA must play an important part in avoiding the Kerner Commission’s grim prophecy that ‘[o]ur Nation is moving toward two societies, one black, one white – separate and un-equal.’ The Court acknowledges the Fair Housing Act’s continuing role in moving the Nation toward a more integrated society.”

Click here to read the Supreme Court decision. 

Click here to read a blog post from the National Low Income Housing Coalition.