President Calls on HUD to Advance Fair Housing Laws
On Jan. 26, President Biden signed several new executive orders addressing racial equity, including a memorandum that directs HUD to mitigate racial bias in housing and advance fair housing laws. Biden said in a press conference, “We need to make equity and justice part of what we do every day… Again, I’m not promising we can end it tomorrow, but we are going to continue to make progress to eliminate systemic racism in every branch of the White House and the federal government.”
In a memorandum, Biden called on HUD to examine changes the Trump administration made last year to several rules, including “Preserving Community and Neighborhood Choice” and “HUD’s Implementation of the Fair Housing Act’s Disparate Impact Standard.” The agency will examine whether the Trump administration’s rules harmed access to fair housing. Under Biden’s directive, HUD will reassess its interpretation of the Fair Housing Act’s disparate impact standard, a rule initially enacted by HUD during the Obama administration and used as a mechanism to enforce the Fair Housing Act.
Under HUD’s previous rule, lenders, landlords, and other housing providers could be held liable for discrimination against protected classes even if it was not their intent to discriminate. The use of disparate impact was challenged all the way up to the U.S. Supreme Court, which upheld the rule in 2015.