Sometime this month the Supreme Court will announce its ruling in Texas Department of Housing v. The Inclusive Communities Project, a lawsuit ostensibly to determine whether the dubious legal doctrine of “disparate impact” should be applied to fair housing laws.
I’ve written about this Orwellian socio-pseudo-concept many times – the ridiculous idea that if a policy treats everybody the same, regardless of race, and there’s no intent to discriminate, it can still be labeled “discriminatory” if its results aren’t racially balanced, as if real life is anything like an Excel spreadsheet.
But at the heart of the Texas lawsuit is something more sinister – it’s the demand that public housing be located in relatively wealthy Dallas suburbs, rather than in lower-income neighborhoods closer to public transportation and affordable amenities.
Regardless of the court’s ruling, Republicans in Congress are trying to limit these disparate impact prosecutions – in recent years, the Department of Justice has pursued and obtained large legal settlements from lenders, landlords, and insurers.
The House passed an amendment to H.R. 2578, the Fiscal Year 2016 Commerce, Justice, and Science Appropriations Act, authored by Rep. Scott Garrett, R-N.J., that bar the Department of Justice from using funds for litigation in which they seek to apply disparate impact theory.
“While everyone agrees that discrimination has no place in the lending practices of any respectable institution, the application of disparate impact theory has had devastating impacts on law-abiding businesses who have diligently maintained fair and consistent lending standards,” said Garrett. “The federal government should be encouraging sound business practices, not punishing those that utilize them. I thank my colleagues for taking a stand for small businesses and reinstating equal protection under the laws as guaranteed in our Constitution by the Fourteenth Amendment.”
They are also trying to defund HUD’s "Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing” plan, which is an extension of this whole disparate impact hustle in the Texas v. ICP lawsuit.
“Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing” and using the sledge hammer of “disparate impact” isn’t about “providing opportunity” as the HUD Secretary Julian Castro will tell you with an empty smile and emptier eyes. The Department of Housing and Urban Development wants to engage in hardcore social engineering.
HUD wants to target any town or development without enough residents in poverty. Anywhere there’s not enough for their spreadsheets, they plan to push for more public housing. HUD wants to force more successful suburbs to build high-density, low-income housing, and to set aside more single-family homes in successful neighborhoods to become Section 8 rentals.
This isn’t about opportunity – it’s about exporting poverty and urban dysfunction to places where people move specifically to avoid it.
The program will run roughshod over property rights, zoning laws, local control and any sense of self-determination.
People work hard to become successful and move to neighborhoods with good schools, low crime and low poverty. They build social and personal capital through thriving neighborhoods with growing home values and an ongoing effort to improve quality of life. It’s something to aspire to.
It is not something that should be handed out to those the government deems worthy.
Putting people in neighborhoods that other people work to successfully build will not solve the problems that cause poverty nor will it “improve an individual or family’s life trajectory” as the HUD secretary claims.
And those of you who worked hard to own your little piece of the American Dream, wanting to live alongside people who share your values and work ethic? Stop being a racist or exclusionist or classist. Your diminished property values and the increased dysfunction are a small price to pay for their vision of fairness – a fairness defined by giving to people all the things you worked hard for.
The laws against discrimination, going back to the Fair Housing Act of 1968, should be that no one who can afford a home and qualify for a mortgage should be denied buying any home, anywhere, that they can afford through the sweat of their own brow – regardless of color, creed, faith or ethnicity.
What HUD is saying is that if someone can’t afford a home in a given neighborhood, then that’s discrimination.
No, it’s not. That’s an incentive to work harder and make better choices.
Those who choose to do so should be rewarded, not punished.