SACRAMENTO – California Attorney General Xavier Becerra today expressed his grave concern with the Trump Administration’s step toward weakening America’s housing and lending anti-discrimination laws. In a comment letter, Attorney General Becerra joined a 17-state coalition urging the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) not to undermine the Agency’s Fair Housing Act (FHA) disparate impact regulations that establish legal liability for practices that have discriminatory effects on individuals protected under the FHA.
“Discrimination and segregation in housing have long been a root of inequality in this country,” said Attorney General Becerra. “The current regulations, which the Trump Administration is attempting to weaken, provide federal and state law enforcement with critical tools to combat structural and systemic housing discrimination. We must continue the fight against discrimination to make our nation more united and equal.”
In the comment letter, the Attorneys General note that changes to the disparate impact regulations would make many forms of housing discrimination enforcement more difficult. The charges would undermine the long-accepted legal framework for establishing unlawful conduct and exceed Executive authority.
On June 20, HUD issued an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking regarding the possibility of amending disparate impact regulations that the agency issued in 2013. In 2015, the Supreme Court held in Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs v. Inclusive Communities Project, Inc. that disparate impact claims are cognizable under the FHA and essential to “moving the Nation toward a more integrated society.”
Attorney General Becerra has consistently opposed housing discrimination and fought to support the Fair Housing Act and the California Fair Employment and Housing Act since taking office. In March 2018, Attorney General Becerra filed a comment letter opposing HUD’s suspension of the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) rule. This rule requires jurisdictions to use national and local data and gather community input to ensure their housing development goals promote balanced and integrated living patterns. Attorney General Becerra also joined an amicus brief supporting a motion for a preliminary injunction seeking to block suspension of that rule in June.
Attorney General Becerra joined this comment letter led by North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein, along with the Attorneys General of the District of Columbia, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, Maryland, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Virginia, Vermont, and Washington.
A copy of the comment letter is available here.