The National Fair Housing Alliance is the only national organization dedicated solely to ending discrimination based on factors such as race, gender, age, religion, and sexual orientation in housing across the United States. As they do on an annual basis, NFHA recently released their 2019 report on fair housing trends.
The complete report contains targeted recommendations that would address the complex issues in today’s housing system, such as algorithmic bias that perpetuates housing, lending, and insurance discrimination. The entirety of the report can be downloaded from the NFHA website. Following, we highlight and summaries some of the most important information.
A Look at the Numbers
Unfortunately, housing discrimination is on the rise. According to NFHA, the number of housing discrimination complaints in 2018 rose by eight percent to 31,202. More than 83 percent of those complaints happen in relation to process of renting a living space. That’s the highest number since NFHA began producing the annual Fair Housing Trends Report in 1995.
And that’s not the only statistic on the rise. Each year, private fair housing groups continue to process 75 percent more complaints than all other government agencies combined. Those complaints are broken down, below, by protected class.
- 02% of complaints cite disability
- 98% of complaints cite race
- 9% of complaints cite familial status
- 83% of complaints cite national origin
- 68% of complaints cite sex
- 73& of complaints cite color
- 18% of complaints cite religion
- 68% of complaints cite another form of discrimination
Broken down into U.S. Department of Housing and Urban development regions, the most HUD, NFHA, and Fair Housing Assistance Program complaints combined throughout 2018 originated from the Pacific/Hawaii region (7,373 complaints total), followed by the Midwest (6,995 total complaints). The least amount of 2018 housing discrimination complaints originated from the Mid-Atlantic region, with 1,116 complaint reports documented. Regardless, these numbers show that housing discrimination does not target one specific region or geographical location. Throughout the U.S., a substantial number of complaints derived from each region over the course of the last year.
NFHA also reports that hate crime offenses increased by an alarming 14.7 percent in the past years. Though startling, these numbers are all important to digest.
Fair Housing and the Law
NFHA says that there is no plainer way to explain the rise in housing discrimination complaints than to bring light to the fact that the Fair Housing Act is under attack from the very agency charged with enforcing it – HUD. The Trump administration and housing industry players, according to the new report, have launched various, unprecedented attacks on fair housing, thus embarking on a complete departure from the bipartisan support fair housing law have received since being enacted in 1968. Following, we dissect two of the ways fair housing is under legislative attack.
Suspending Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing
One of the most important adverse measures the Trump Administrative has taken to undermine the availability of fair housing is to suspend the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing regulation, a rule enacted in 2015 to require recipients of federal funds to take meaningful steps to end segregation and eliminate artificial barriers to fair housing.
In testimony before the House Appropriations Committee earlier this year, the Secretary remarked that, “segregation persists because Black people can’t afford to live in other places,” and that what society really needs to do to make housing fair is to build more affordable housing.
While the creation of affordable housing is certainly important, NFHA reports that this position by the government reflects an entire lack of knowledge about the history of racism and the policies and practices embedded in a host of governmental and industry programs. This history necessitates a strong rule to require communities to actively identify and eliminate barriers to housing opportunity and inclusion.
HUD’s Proposed Alteration
The second harmful measure has been HUD’s release of a notice of a proposed rule to
alter the use of key standards used to determine proof of housing discrimination known as “disparate impact.” Disparate impact is a widely-accepted doctrine that is a critical legal tool for challenging seemingly neutral policies or practices that have a discriminatory effect on potential buyers and renters in protected classes.
HUD proposed an unprecedented set of pleading requirements for victims of discrimination to bring successful disparate impact claims, as well as unheard-of defenses for lenders, insurance companies, housing providers, and those using algorithmic-based systems.
The proposed rule would make it virtually impossible to bring disparate impact claims and would allow the housing industry to maintain or institute policies and practices that in effect discriminate against entire classes of people.
Steps for Continuing Justice
Much like NFHA, the Central Alabama Fair Housing Center and local fair housing organizations have been working tirelessly to promote fair housing and the continuation of such throughout the nation. It is our duty as a society to advocate for and educate the public on housing discrimination and the importance of fair housing. How can you get involved and combat the rise of housing discrimination?
First and foremost, access the full NFHA 2019 Fair Housing Trends report here to further your understanding of the current and foreseeable-future state of fair housing throughout the United States. Review the resources on the CAFHC website, including educational documents, printable materials, legal and disability resources, among others. You might also review the legal resources available on our site to get a more in-depth understanding of all laws and regulations. Those in need of legal assistance can also access that on the CAFHC website.
Fair housing is something we must all advocate for as a nation. At such a crucial time, it is imperative to stand together and push for the undying importance of fair housing.