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Department of Justice rescinds housing discrimination guidance

Several racial discrimination cases are pending

The Department of Justice recently announced it will repeal 24 guidance documents on a wide range of issues, including housing discrimination, according to the American Civil Liberties Union.

These guidance documents highlighted the serious implications and illegality of discrimination and encouraged individuals to report violations.

Laws preventing ethnic or cultural backgrounds deterring opportunity and federal protections based on nation of origin are among the information that is scheduled to be rescinded.

“This is another attack by Sessions and President Trump on people of color,” National Political Director of the American Civil Liberties Union Faiz Shakir said. “Our chief law enforcement officer is dismantling structures that prevent racial discrimination in education, in housing and in ensuring fair treatment of juveniles in our criminal justice system.”

The Department of Justice's plans to repeal housing guidance documents have not been the only blow to the housing industry.

The Department of Housing and Urban Development announced it would provide $37 million to fund a plan by more than 150 fair housing organizations to fight against discrimination. However, HUD killed the essential Local Government Assessment Tool, a computer program that allowed local governments to submit relevant housing data that helped them meet fair housing obligations.

The city of New York announced a lawsuit against HUD, claiming the repeal of the Obama-era fair housing rule violated civil rights.

Notably, several stories of racial discrimination in the housing market have also become pending legal cases as well.   

In June, the National Fair Housing Alliance, a group of 19 fair housing organizations and two homeowners from Maryland filed a lawsuit against Bank of America and Safeguard Properties Management for alleged fair housing violations.

The lawsuit claims that defendants intentionally failed to provide routine exterior maintenance and marketing for Bank of America-owned homes in African American and Latino neighborhoods across 37 metro areas.

However, homes in predominantly white working- and middle-class neighborhoods are far more likely to be upkept, according to the NFHA.

The ACLU also announced a lawsuit against Faribault, Minnesota, claiming the city’s Crime-Free Housing Program disproportionately effects members of the minority community.

The program permits police to order the eviction of all members of a household if any member or guest is thought to be engaging in criminal behavior, and evictions can take place even if no one is arrested, prosecuted or found guilty. Additionally, the program asks landlords to refuse potential tenants with a criminal history.

The ACLU holds the Crime-Free Housing Program in violation of the Fair Housing Act and the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, because 9% of Faribault’s population is black and a whopping 90% are renters.

Sadly, housing discrimination is a reality in this country. The repealing of guidance documents by the Department of Justice could make an ongoing problem even worse.

“It’s a shameful move but let there be no mistake — it doesn’t change the law, or the mandate for federal agencies to uphold the Constitution,” Shakir continued. “The ACLU will continue to fight for equality under the law and to protect all civil rights, even as the Justice Department won’t.”

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