‘Disparate Impact’ Change Would Fuel Housing Discrimination

A proposed rule would upend the longstanding legal standard of disparate impact.

New Trump Administration Rule Proposal Undermines Core Civil Rights Protections

August 19, 2019

Contact: Ishena Robinson
(P) 312-549-9879

Chicago, IL—The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) today released a proposed rule that would upend the longstanding legal standard of disparate impact and effectively make it harder for people across the country to fight back against housing discrimination, the latest of the Trump Administration’s ongoing efforts to erode federal civil rights protections.

“This rule proposal flies in the face of the plain language in the Fair Housing Act and decades of court decisions affirming the disparate impact standard—which allows individuals to challenge those practices that may adversely impact protected classes even without evidence of discriminatory intent,” said Kate Walz, Vice President of Advocacy at the Shriver Center on Poverty Law. “This continues a pattern by the Trump Administration to willfully ignore the structural racism that has long permeated the housing landscape in the United States and demonstrates a callous disregard for communities of color in America who will be made more vulnerable by the federal government’s refusal to ensure racially equitable housing access.”

The harm of this latest proposal from the Trump Administration will ripple out to numerous communities across all 50 states. In the absence of a robust disparate impact standard, people of color, people with disabilities, women, and families with children will be left with fewer tools to combat housing discrimination. If this proposed rule goes into effect, other federal agencies will likely be emboldened to take similar measures to weaken civil rights laws, such as in education and employment.

The Shriver Center condemns this proposed rule, which is the latest expression of this Administration’s contempt for civil rights protections, including those which have been critical bulwarks against discriminatory housing policies. In collaboration with fellow national partners and our state-based network members, the Shriver Center will stand firm against this assault on the disparate impact standard of the Fair Housing Act and fight to prevent the Trump Administration from watering down anti-discrimination laws beyond housing as well.


The Shriver Center on Poverty Law fights for economic and racial justice. Over our 50-year history, we have secured hundreds of victories with and for people living in poverty in Illinois and across the country. Today, we litigate, shape policy, and train and convene multi-state networks of lawyers, community leaders, and activists nationwide. Together, we are building a future where all people have equal dignity, respect, and power under the law. Join the fight at povertylaw.org.

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All people should have the right to a safe, stable home to build better futures for themselves and their families.

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