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Evolution of Federal Strategies To Promote Fair Housing

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Spring/Summer 2014   


        Expanding Opportunity Through Fair Housing Choice
        Paired Testing and the Housing Discrimination Studies
        Fair Housing Enforcement Organizations Use Testing To Expose Discrimination

Evolution of Federal Strategies To Promote Fair Housing

Since the passage of the Fair Housing Act, the federal government has gradually but progressively strengthened the enforcement apparatus for antidiscrimination.

  • 1968 – Fair Housing Act. Prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, and national origin in most housing and directs federal agencies to administer programs “in a manner affirmatively to further” fair housing.1

  • 1972 – Trafficante v. Metropolitan Life Insurance Company. U.S. Supreme Court decision recognizing integration as part of the legislative intent of the Fair Housing Act.2

  • 1974 – Housing and Community Development Act. Adds sex to the prohibited bases of discrimination in the Fair Housing Act.3

  • 1976 – Hills v. Gautreaux. U.S. Supreme Court decision stating that HUD had an obligation to implement a desegregation remedy for metropolitan areas to redress past policies that sited public housing in minority neighborhoods.4

  • 1977 – Community Reinvestment Act. Seeks to reduce redlining by giving federal financial regulators the ability to examine whether financial institutions have adequately met the credit needs of the community in which they are chartered before approving mergers and branch openings.5

  • 1979 – Fair Housing Assistance Program (FHAP). Supports local government enforcement efforts in jurisdictions with substantially equivalent fair housing protections.6

  • 1982 – Havens Realty Corp. v. Coleman. U.S. Supreme Court decision ruling that fair housing testers have standing to sue in court.7

  • 1988 – Fair Housing Initiatives Program (FHIP). Established as part of the Housing and Community Development Act of 1987, FHIP funds the education and enforcement efforts of local nonprofit fair housing organizations.8

  • 1988 – Fair Housing Amendments Act. Adds familial status and disability to the bases of protection under the Fair Housing Act and bolsters the enforcement process by authorizing HUD administrative law judges to decide cases and award damages.9

  • 2000 – Executive Order 13166, “Improving Access to Services for Persons With Limited English Proficiency.” Requires federal agencies to ensure that otherwise eligible persons with limited English proficiency can access federally conducted or assisted programs and activities, including those related to housing.10

  • 2009 – United States ex rel. Anti-Discrimination Center of Metro New York, Inc. v. Westchester County, New York. District court partial summary judgment ruling that Westchester County had failed to consider race in preparing their analysis of impediments and had falsely certified that it had affirmatively furthered fair housing. The case resulted in a settlement in which the county agreed to ensure the development of affordable housing in low-poverty neighborhoods.11

  • 2012 – Equal Access to Housing in HUD Programs Regardless of Sexual Orientation or Gender Identity Final Rule. Prohibits discrimination against otherwise eligible individuals or families on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, or marital status in HUD-assisted or -insured housing.12

  • 2013 – Implementation of the Fair Housing Act’s Discriminatory Effects Standard Final Rule. Formalizes the long-standing interpretation of HUD and federal appellate courts that practices with discriminatory effects may violate the Fair Housing Act, and standardizes a three-part burden-shifting test to determine liability under the Act.13

  • 2013 – Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing Proposed Rule. With Census data and technical support, would require HUD program participants to prepare an assessment of fair housing and encourage incorporation of fair housing considerations in local and regional planning with the goals of eliminating barriers to fair housing choice and promoting desegregation and deconcentration of poverty.14

    1. Fair Housing Act, 1968, Pub. L. 90–284.
    2. Trafficante v. Metropolitan Life Insurance Company , 409 U.S. 205, 211 (1972).
    3. Housing and Community Development Act, 1974, Pub. L. 93–383.
    4. Nicholas R. Seabrook, Charles M. Lamb, and Eric M. Wilk. 2011. "Federal Courts and Fair Housing Policy," in Fair and Affordable Housing in the U.S.: Trends, Outcomes, Future Directions, ed. Robert Mark Silverman and Kelly L. Patterson, Boston: Brill, 49.
    5. Community Reinvestment Act, 1977, Pub. L. 95–128.
    6. Eric M. Wilk, Charles M. Lamb, and Nicholas R. Seabrook. 2011. "Intergovernmental Enforcement of the Fair Housing Act: The Fair Housing Assistance Program," in Silverman and Patterson, 35.
    7. Seabrook, Lamb, and Wilk 2011, 59–60.
    8. Housing and Community Development Act of 1987, Pub. L. 100–242, Section 561.
    9. Fair Housing Amendments Act, 1988, Pub. L. 100–430; Michael H. Schill and Samantha Friedman. 1999. "The Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988: The First Decade," Cityscape: Journal of Policy Development and Research 4:3, 58–9
    10. U.S. President. 2000. “Executive Order 13166 of August 11, 2000: Improving Access to Services for Persons With Limited English Proficiency,” Federal Register 65:159 (August 16), 50121–2.
    11. Olatunde Johnson. 2011. "The Last Plank: Rethinking Public and Private Power to Advance Fair Housing," University of Pennsylvania Journal of Constitutional Law 13:5, 1216–8.
    12. U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. 2012. “Equal Access to Housing in HUD Programs Regardless of Sexual Orientation or Gender Identity,” Federal Register 77:23 (February 3), 5662–76.
    13. U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Develop­ment. 2013. “Implementation of the Fair Housing Act’s Discriminatory Effects Standard,” Federal Register 78:32 (February 15), 11460–82.
    14. U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. 2013. "Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing," Federal Register 78:139 (July 19), 43710–43.


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