Friday, June 26, 2015

Supreme Court decision on Housing

The OTHER big Supreme Court decision from yesterday was in HOUSING.  The 5-4 Supreme Court ruling says that housing discrimination lawsuits under the Fair Housing Act can proceed without proof of intentional bias against minorities based on disparate impact.  The Fair Housing Act makes it illegal to discriminate because of race in certain real estate transactions.  Disparate impact is where a practice or procedure is neutral on its face, but the effect of such practice results in discrimination.  

In the Supreme Court case decided on June 25, 2015, Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs Et Al v. Inclusive Communities Project, Inc. Et Al, it was alleged "that the Department and its officers had caused continued segregated housing patterns by allocating too many tax credits to housing in predominantly black inner-city areas and too few in predominantly white suburban neighborhoods."  The Justices wrote, "Recognition of disparate-impact claims is also consistent with the central purpose of the FHA, which,like Title VII and the ADEA, was enacted to eradicate discriminatory practices within a sector of the Nation’s economy."  

The decision will likely influence decision-makers who create new zoning laws, develop affordable housing programs, and local housing authorities, as well as possibly encourage more disparate impact lawsuits.  Justice Alito wrote in his dissent, "Disparate impact puts housing authorities in a very difficult position because programs that are designed and implemented to help the poor can provide the grounds for a disparate-impact claim."

Read the decision here: