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Fair Housing Center Joins Rally at Supreme Court to Protect the Fair Housing Act

Posted on 21. Jan, 2015 by

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, the Supreme Court will hear Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs v. The Inclusive Communities Project, a case that could threaten the long-standing legal theory of disparate impact, which has protected all Americans from discrimination for decades. James Perry, Executive Director of the Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center (GNOFHAC), will join other advocates on the steps of the Supreme Court to rally in support of the disparate impact protection afforded by the Fair Housing Act.

The disparate impact protection requires that banks, landlords, and other housing providers should choose policies that apply fairly to all persons. Some policies that seem neutral in theory can unfairly exclude or segregate particular communities in practice. For example, an apartment complex could exclude applicants without full-time jobs- a policy that seems facially neutral. But such a policy has a disparate impact on people like disabled veterans or seniors who do not work full-time but may still afford an apartment.

Disparate impact makes it possible to recognize and prevent harmful and inequitable policies so that everyone is treated fairly.

The Supreme Court case focuses on Dallas, Texas, where the State of Texas approved the construction of affordable housing along racial lines, which reinforced residential segregation. For example, Texas allowed only three percent of the approved housing to be located in neighborhoods that are at least seventy percent white. The disparate impact protection has 45 years of legal precedent since the inception of the Fair Housing Act, including rulings by 11 different appellate courts across the country. Key GNOFHAC cases, including its decade-long legal battle with St. Bernard Parish, relied in part on the disparate impact theory.

In this case, the Inclusive Communities Project, an organization that seeks to further fair housing throughout Texas, is challenging the City of Dallas’ policy for allocating low-income-housing vouchers in a way that reinforced residential segregation. In response, the state of Texas is urging the justices to rule that disparate impact claims are not viable under the Fair Housing Act.

Today’s rally will be held from 9:00am-11:30am at the United States Supreme Court.

“This decision will not only profoundly impact housing choice for millions of Americans, but will shape our neighborhoods and communities for decades to come,” said James Perry, Executive Director of the Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center, who will be attending the rally on behalf of GNOFHAC. “Especially in an era of subtle discrimination that is pernicious in its effects, it is imperative that the Court act to protect the legacy of Dr. King’s work to create equal housing opportunity for all by upholding disparate impact.”

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Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center (GNOFHAC) is a private nonprofit organization. GNOFHAC is dedicated to eliminating housing discrimination and furthering equal housing opportunities through education, outreach, advocacy, and enforcement of fair housing laws across the metro New Orleans and Baton Rouge areas. The activities described in this release were privately funded.

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