Anti-Discrimination Housing Standards Set

     WASHINGTON (CN) – The Department of Housing and Urban Development created a formal nationwide test to determine violations of the Fair Housing Act, which prohibits housing discrimination.
     The Fair Housing Act was passed in 1968 to combat segregation and discrimination in the advertising, lending and brokerage services related to housing. It aimed to replace segregated communities with “truly integrated and balanced living patterns.”
     In the past 20 years, the Department of Housing and Urban Development has concluded that housing policies may have unintended discriminatory effects.
     A number of federal courts of appeal have concluded that liability under the Fair Housing Act may be established based on a showing that a neutral policy has a discriminatory effect, the department said.
     The department proposed a burden-shifting framework to determine when liability exists for a discriminatory effect on housing.
     That framework was finalized in a rule published last week. “Under the proposed burden-shifting approach, the charging party or plaintiff in an adjudication first bears the burden of proving that a challenged practice causes a discriminatory effect,” the department wrote. “If the charging party or plaintiff meets this burden, the burden of proof shifts to the respondent or defendant to prove that the challenged practice has a necessary and manifest relationship to one or more of its legitimate, nondiscriminatory interests. If the respondent or defendant satisfies this burden, the charging party or plaintiff may still establish liability by demonstrating that the legitimate, nondiscriminatory interest can be served by another practice that has a less discriminatory effect.”
     The final rule is effective March 18.

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