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NAR to HUD: Don’t Weaken Fair Housing Rule

As HUD considers changes to “disparate impact” rules, NAR says it’s not the time to “hinder further progress on addressing ongoing systemic racism in our country.”

WASHINGTON – On Monday, the National Association of Realtors® (NAR) asked the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to withdraw its proposed rule to amend interpretation of the Fair Housing Act’s disparate impact standard.

In the letter NAR sent to HUD, NAR says that there’s a broad national consensus to eradicate racial discrimination, and that HUD’s proposed update would make it too difficult for people to bring forward legitimate disparate impact claims.

Disparate impact refers to practices or policies that don’t seem discriminatory at face value but, when viewed at the macro level, violate the Fair Housing Act.

“While there is debate … as to whether additional clarity is needed with respect to disparate impact claims, there is broad consensus across the country that now is not the time to issue a regulation that could hinder further progress toward addressing ongoing systemic racism,” NAR President Vince Malta writes in NAR’s letter.

“We believe this is the time to explore how we may work together to eliminate unnecessary barriers to housing opportunity and advance policies that allow more Americans to fully participate in the American Dream … and respectfully ask that HUD withdraw its proposed rule to amend its interpretation of the Fair Housing Act’s disparate impact standard,” Malta adds.

The letter also notes the role NAR “played decades ago in segregating our metropolitan areas” and the impact of a recent Newsday article that “reminded us (discrimination) still exists.”

NAR submitted initial comments to HUD after the Department unveiled its proposed rule last October. While commending HUD’s stated goal to make its enforcement policy consistent with the Supreme Court decision in Texas Dept. of Housing and Community Affairs v. Inclusive Communities Project, Inc., NAR also expressed concerns that some of HUD’s revisions place too heavy a burden on the ability to bring an initial disparate impact claim.

Malta says NAR is working closely with state and local Realtor associations on specific referenda, policy recommendations and residential projects that support the commitment to fair housing and housing opportunity.

“Ultimately, NAR supports disparate impact as a legal theory to address the unfair housing practices that inhibit fair housing and unfairly target members of protected classes, while still protecting the ability of Realtors and other stakeholders to run their businesses in a free and functional real estate market,” Malta said.

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