Fair housing for whom?
The Department of Housing and Urban Development proposed a new regulation that would make it harder for people to bring discrimination complaints under the Fair Housing Act over policies that are neutral on their face but discriminatory in practice.
The legal term of art is “disparate impact,” and it means that while a policy may not explicitly discriminate against marginalized communities, the way that they are set up creates unfair outcomes.
An Obama-era rule created a three-part test that checked for discriminatory outcomes. The new rule is a five-part test to prove that a policy discriminates. Proving such an outcome requires that the policy to be “arbitrary, artificial, and unnecessary” and a “robust causal link” between the policy and the marginalized group.
Plaintiffs “would bear the entire burden of proving each element of the test,” according to the Urban Institute, a policy thinktank.
At the same time, the government seems poised to make discrimination easier by turning to algorithms to make decisions around housing and lending, according to the Urban Institute. While algorithms run on a consistent set of instructions, they are still coded by humans with implicit biases. Furthermore, caveats built into the new rule, such as protecting companies when algorithms do not explicitly include things like race and gender but ignore other attributes that lead to similar outcomes, allow people to discriminate, potentially without consequence.
“These loopholes, if adopted, could undermine the rule entirely,” according to the Urban Institute.
Local author target of racist attack
Best-selling author Ijeoma Oluo and her family were forced to leave their home after her information was published on a White nationalist website, leading to a flood of threats.
According to her account on Twitter, Oluo received word from the King County Sheriff’s Office that gunshots had been heard at her home. A caller also reported dead bodies at the residence. Oluo was traveling, but her teenage son was at home.
Oluo had spoken to the Sheriff’s Office weeks before because her residential information had been released on a White nationalist website in a practice called “doxing.” Using that information to report fake crimes is called “swatting,” a dangerous practice where officers dispatch to a residence based on false information.
Seattle and King County are unique in that local law enforcement have swatting registries.
This means that an individual who suspects that they might be a target can alert law enforcement of the potential risk before someone tries to send officers to their home.
Ashley Archibald is a Staff Reporter covering local government, policy and equity. Have a story idea? She can be can reached at ashleya (at) realchangenews (dot) org. Follow Ashley on Twitter @AshleyA_RC
Read the full August 28 - September 3 issue.
We have removed the comment section from our website. Here's why.
© 2019 Real Change. All rights reserved.| Real Change is a non-profit organization advocating for economic, social and racial justice. Since 1994 our award-winning weekly newspaper has provided an immediate employment opportunity for people who are homeless and low income. Learn more about Real Change and donate now to support independent, award-winning journalism.