House Rules: America’s Journey Towards Fair Housing

This American Life broadcast a history of the Fair Housing Act, the factors leading up to it, the individuals and agencies who played different roles in it’s evolution, and what it means to our society and the actual people affected by discrimination. Radio worth listening to. Podcast available after 11/24/13 here.

The role of housing in implementing Olmstead, and why it matters to everyone

The 1999 Olmstead decision clarified the court’s intent to afford persons with disabilities the opportunity to live independently in and as part of the larger community, which in turn means access to opportunities available to all persons.

To quote from the ruling, the goal is to seek “the most integrated setting appropriate to the needs of qualified individuals with disabilities” or “a setting that enables individuals with disabilities to interact with non-disabled persons to the fullest extent possible.”

Housing is key to community integration, as where we live determines our access to a host of essential community services. HUD’s message on this is also clear:”Individuals with disabilities, like individuals without disabilities, should have choice and self determination in housing and in the health care and related support services they receive. For this reason, HUD is committed to offering individuals with disabilities housing options that enable them to make meaningful choices about housing, health care, and long-term services and supports so they can participate fully in community life.”

There are many efforts underway in Idaho to achieve the aims of Olmstead, and will take communication and coordination among all partners to create a diverse mix of housing choices throughout the state’s many regions. Housing alone doesn’t make a community accessible, but it’s a really good place to start.

Read more here: Olmstead and housing

SCOTUS to Scuttle Disparate Impact?

According to ProPublica, the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) may soon take up the issue of disparate impact. The court’s decision will have a profound effect on many major fair housing cases.

As the new proposed rule states, HUD “has long interpreted the Act to prohibit practices with an unjustified discriminatory effect, regardless of whether there was an intent to discriminate. The eleven federal courts of appeals that have ruled on this issue agree with this interpretation.”

Stay tuned, and read the full ProPublica article here.


Who is protected? What is prohibited?

The Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in housing because of:

  • Race
  • Color
  • National origin
  • Religion
  • Sex
  • Familial status (families with children)
  • Handicap

What is Prohibited?

The following actions are prohibited if based on a consumer’s association with one or more of the protected classes listed above:

  • Refusal to rent or sell or negotiate for housing.
  • Making housing unavailable.
  • Denial of a dwelling.
  • Setting different terms, conditions or privileges for sale or rental of a dwelling.
  • Providing different housing services or facilities.
  • Falsely denying that housing is available for inspection, sale or rental.
  • Denial of access to or membership in a facility or service related to the sale or rental of housing.
  • Steering prospective tenants to a certain neighborhood, development or unit.
  • Refusal to make a mortgage loan or provide information regarding loans.
  • Imposing different terms or conditions on a loan.
  • Discrimination in appraising property.
  • Refusal to purchase a loan.
  • Setting different terms or conditions for purchasing a loan.