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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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