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On February 8th, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development issued new regulations to better enforce and apply the Fair Housing Act across our nation. The regulations explain, in particular, that policies and practices that have an unjustified discriminatory effect, known as “disparate impact,” violate the Act. This memo offers communications guidance for talking about the regulations, fair housing, and disparate impact with a range of audiences. It is based on available opinion research and practical experience.
The Fair Housing Narrative
Like other fair housing matters, these regulations should be framed in terms of America’s interest in protecting equal opportunity and freedom from discrimination for everyone, a responsibility that benefits all of us and is crucial to a prosperous future in an increasingly diverse nation and the world. We should describe as common sense the notion that all forms of avoidable discrimination should be toppled to allow more fair and effective approaches that expand opportunity for everyone. And we should make visible the structural and institutional barriers to fair housing, like unreasonable zoning restrictions, that limit the options of all Americans while especially excluding people of color.
A Longer Version:
“Equal opportunity is a bedrock American principle, and critical to our national success. But despite the progress we’ve made as a nation, significant obstacles to equal opportunity still exist, particularly when it comes to housing and homeownership. There are still some real estate agents, landlords, and others who practice intentional discrimination against people of color, families with children, people with disabilities, and others. But more often these days, local governments and real estate corporations engage in unjustified and unnecessary policies with the practical effect of discriminating against many well-qualified home seekers. Some cities and towns, for example, prohibit the building of smaller homes or apartments that working people could afford, which in many places excludes most people of color. That means that many people are unfairly and unnecessarily cut off from opportunities like quality schools, jobs, and business possibilities. That’s bad for all of us, and we applaud the Department of Housing and Urban Development,
To read more, download our talking points memo below:
"HUD Issues Rule Formalizing Standard on Discriminatory Effects in Housing," U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Feb. 8, 2013.
"NCLR Applauds HUD's New Anti-Discrimination Rule," National Council of La Raza, Feb. 8, 2013
"Obama Administration Issues Significant Civil Rights Regulation," National Fair Housing Alliance, Feb. 8, 2013
An Important Step for Equal Opportunity: This rule is an important step forward in our nation’s pursuit of equal opportunity for all.
Toppling Barriers: Knocking down arbitrary barriers to equal opportunity is in our national interest and central to our national values.
The Common Good: Equal opportunity and diverse, thriving communities are crucial to our national prosperity in the 21st century. Access to a safe and affordable home near quality schools and employment is central to the American Dream. When it comes to building strong communities, we’re all in it together.
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The Opportunity Agenda is a project of Tides Center