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Fair Housing

This featured collection looks at the wide range of advocacy that falls under the umbrella of "fair housing." The accompanying podcast includes an interview with Kate Walz, the Director of Housing Justice at the Shriver Center. Safe and affordable housing is essential for families trying to move out of poverty, and fair housing work removes the discriminatory barriers that often stand in the way. Clearinghouse Review's deep archive contains articles that illustrate the breadth and possibility of fair housing work.

Stemming the Tide of Crime-Free Rental Housing and Nuisance-Property Ordinances

By Emily Werth

Crime-free rental housing and nuisance-property ordinances penalize landlords for criminal activity or police calls associated with their rental properties and push out the tenants who live there. The ordinances can displace crime victims, increase homelessness, and disproportionately affect women, people of color, and people with disabilities. The proliferation of such ordinances can be beaten back by collaboration, intentional-discrimination claims, and threats to a municipality’s federal funds for not affirmatively furthering fair housing.

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Introducing HUD’s Implementation of the Fair Housing Act’s Discriminatory Effects Standard

By Megan Haberle

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) issued a regulation in February 2013 to implement the Fair Housing Act’s discriminatory effects standard. The regulation formalized the clear burden-shifting standard used for decades by HUD and most federal courts. It established a uniform definition of “discriminatory effect” and clarified how defendants can show a “legally sufficient justification” for a challenged practice.

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Beyond Fear and Myth

Using the Disparate Impact Theory Under the Fair Housing Act to Challenge Housing Barriers Against People with Criminal Records

By Marie Claire Tran-Leung

Housing barriers targeting people with criminal records are vulnerable to attack under the Fair Housing Act. The Act prohibits housing discrimination on the basis of race. Because of the disproportionate number of racial minorities with criminal records, housing policies banning people with criminal records have a disparate, adverse impact on racial minorities. Disparate impact claims against criminal records policies have succeeded in the Title VII employment context; similar claims under the Act may succeed as well. A housing provider with a criminal records policy also may violate its duty of affirmatively furthering fair housing under the Act.

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Moving or Moving Up? Understanding Residential Mobility for Housing Choice Voucher Families in Illinois

By Andrew Greenlee, Janet Smith, Katherine E. Walz & Sharon Legenza

The federal Housing Choice Voucher program offers very low-income families the opportunity to move  to communities with improved access to jobs, schools, diversity, and other advantages. “Voucher portability,” or the process of moving outside the jurisdiction of the voucher-issuing housing authority, has been burdensome for participants and public housing authorities, even though the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) reminds housing authorities of their duty to comply with fair housing laws and other requirements. Regional and statewide cooperation among housing authorities and advocates, coupling moving with housing mobility counseling, landlord outreach and education, and establishing a HUD complaint process for affected households are, in this analysis of the Illinois experience, among recommended ways to improve a voucher holder’s right to move to communities of opportunity.

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Reasonable Accommodations in Assisted Living

Crafting Effective Requests to Promote Housing Choice

By Kim Pederson & Melissa Morris

The Fair Housing Amendments Act prohibits disability discrimination in housing settings, such as seniors’ assisted living facilities, designed to serve people with disabilities. State licensing schemes can make it very difficult for seniors to request the reasonable accommodations that they often need to remain in their homes. By studying the California licensing scheme and two poignant examples of seniors determined to age in place, advocates can learn new strategies for helping their clients preserve fair housing rights.

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Making Real the Desegregating Promise of the Fair Housing Act

"Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing" Comes of Age

By Craig Gurian & Michael Allen

Westchester County, New York, has remained segregated even while receiving millions of dollars from federal housing and community development programs. How to change the status quo? The Anti-Discrimination Center knew that, as a Community Development Block grantee, the county was required to certify that it would work to “affirmatively further fair housing”—an obligation ignored by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and grantees alike. In United States ex rel. Anti-Discrimination Center of Metro New York Incorporated v. Westchester County the center alleged that the county’s certifications violated the False Claims Act. The judge agreed that a grantee’s certification was a substantive requirement and enforceable.

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