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Tackling Discrimination in Housing

According to NPR, a proposal from HUD on the Fair Housing Act would target “disparate impact,” or unintentional discrimination. Critics of the proposed rule have stated that it would limit the ability to fight discrimination in housing.

"It's important because it allows us to really get at discrimination that's not intentional," says Nikitra Bailey, a lawyer with the nonprofit Center for Responsible Lending on NPR.

According to Roger Clegg, President of the Center for Equal Opportunity, "There are always going to be racially disproportionate results for any policy."

"If you have a landlord who says, 'I'm not going to rent to people with a history of violent crime,' " Clegg says. "The fact that that has a racially disproportionate result does not make it discrimination."

According to NPR, HUD says it can't comment on the proposed rule yet. But in an earlier statement, HUD Secretary Ben Carson said the department "remains committed to making sure housing-related policies and practices treat people fairly."

According to an article by economist John Wake in Forbes, the black homeownership rate is not vastly different now than what it was when the 1968 Fair Housing Act became law.

Wake notes that black homeownership increased by 20% from 1950 to 1970, before housing discrimination was outlawed. Since the Act, however, the rate has remained flat. Wake offers some possible explanations.

Wake notes that, as a form of compromise, the Fair Housing Act did not include strong enforcement powers.

“Just four months after the Fair Housing Act was signed into law, the Housing and Urban Development Act of 1968 was signed into law,” Wake said. “It included the soon to be infamous Section 235 program from FHA that let lower-income people who couldn't qualify for other mortgages get these new subsidized mortgages with down payments as low as $200 and subsidized, below-market interest rates as low as 1%.”

HUD’s proposal is expected to be released sometime in August.

About Author: Seth Welborn

Seth Welborn is a Harding University graduate with a degree in English and a minor in writing. He is a contributing writer for MReport. An East Texas Native, he has studied abroad in Athens, Greece and works part-time as a photographer.
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