Atty. General Josh Stein leads 22-state coalition to fight discrimination in housing

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RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCT) Attorney General Josh Stein led a coalition of 22 attorneys general opposing the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) proposed changes to its Disparate Impact Rule.

While the current rule protects against discriminatory housing and lending practices that have the effect of harming individuals based on their race, color, religion, national origin, sex, disability, and familial status, the proposed changes would create uncertainty and make it harder for states to ensure equal housing opportunities for all Americans. 

“Fighting discrimination and ensuring everyone is treated equally is central to building stable, successful communities in North Carolina,” said Attorney General Josh Stein. “The existing rule helps ensure equal housing opportunities for everyone – I urge HUD to abandon its proposed weakening of these critical protections.”

The coalition, led by Attorney General Stein, New York Attorney General Letitia James, and California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, submitted comments arguing that the proposed rule changes have substantial defects.

The changes ignore the Supreme Court’s binding interpretation of the Fair Housing Act and drastically exceed HUD’s authority by altering judicial procedures.

The changes also provide more immunity to lending and insurance companies at the expense of consumers, making it more likely that claims with merit will be unnecessarily dismissed.

The attorneys general have wide-ranging experience in using disparate impact liability to enforce fair housing laws, combat housing discrimination, and ensure that everyone has an equal opportunity to obtain housing.

States have regularly challenged housing policies that have a discriminatory effect, including zoning ordinances, mortgage lending discrimination, and English-only policies. Many times, these policies disproportionately hurt minority residents and vulnerable populations, such as domestic violence victims.

Attorney General Stein previously led a coalition of 17 attorneys general in August 2018 urging HUD to keep its current Disparate Impact Rule to protect consumers. 

Attorney General Stein is joined in submitting today’s comments by the Attorneys General of California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, New Mexico, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, and Washington. 

A copy of the comments letter is available here.

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