Harlem’s Espaillat Statement In Opposition To Proposed Changes To HUD’s Use Of Disparate Impact

October 18, 2019

Harlem Congressional member Adriano Espaillat, joined by members of the New York congressional delegation and advocates, issued the following statement after submission of his comments filed earlier today in opposition to proposed changes to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) use of disparate impact:

The disparate impact rule is an effective mechanism for uncovering forms of discrimination which are covert or unintentional, and it upholds a critical function of the Fair Housing Act, which was passed just days after Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s assassination and in his honor.

“We have not resolved this nation’s problems related to housing and residential segregation,” said Congressman Adriano Espaillat (NY-13). “For families with limited to low-incomes, the disparate impact rule and standing affirmed by the Supreme Court in 2015 is the standard by which New Yorkers, including my constituents, may have to take recourse against unscrupulous actors and policies that would disenfranchise minority residents and communities of color. In place of this proposed rule, HUD should focus vigorously on ensuring compliance with the standards set forth by the Fair Housing Act and existing disparate impact rule, which allows victims of systemic discrimination to seek recourse and change policies that limit housing opportunities.”

“Discrimination in housing remains a major problem throughout our country, said Congressman Jerrold Nadler (NY-10). “This new effort by HUD to gut the disparate impact rule – effectively undoing the Supreme Court’s 2015 decision affirming it – would only cause further harm to the individuals the Fair Housing Act is intended to defend. I strongly urge rejection of this proposed rule and implore HUD to focus its efforts on ensuring that the promise of equal housing opportunity becomes a reality for all.”

“The proposed rule change to the Disparate Impact Standard will not only work to make it more difficult to fight housing discrimination, but it will also undermine the critical work that has already been done. Since its passage, the Act has stood as one of the most critical housing protections for everyday Americans. In no uncertain terms, equal opportunity in the housing provides the bedrock stability to protected communities necessary to achieving success in America. Thanks to the Fair Housing Act, our country has laid the foundation and started along the path of rectifying our shared history of housing discrimination,” said Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke (NY-09).

“HUD’s proposed rule will benefit the banks and insurance companies who lobbied for it, as well as predatory investors and discriminatory landlords while harming the very people the Fair Housing Act is intended to protect. Inwood Legal Action and the people of Inwood hope the courts will help them fight a large-scale rezoning that will displace racial minorities and trigger rampant gentrification throughout their neighborhood. But the proposed rule limiting the application of the Fair Housing Act will make it very difficult for Inwood and other vulnerable communities to bring legal challenges against such discriminatory practices. Inwood is just one of many communities across America who look to the Fair Housing Act to vindicate their civil rights. By gutting the Act, HUD is welcoming 21st-century redlining and sending an unequivocal message—that HUD and the Trump Administration care only about appeasing corporate interests and have abandoned working-class communities of color such as Inwood,” said Edda Santiago, Esq., Inwood Legal Action.

“HUD’s proposed rule attempting to gut the effectiveness of Disparate Impact Claims should be rejected. We must not undermine nor abandon the intent of the Fair Housing Act in the United States. Communities such as Inwood in New York City are relying on the promises of the Fair Housing Act as a basis to challenge a rezoning effort that would result in fewer housing opportunities for racial minorities and would perpetuate housing segregation based on race,” said Norman Siegel, Esq., Siegel Teitelbaum & Evans, LLP.

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First elected to Congress in 2016, Rep. Adriano Espaillat is serving his second term in Congress where he serves as a member of the influential U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee, the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, and the House Small Business Committee. He serves as a Senior Whip of the House Democratic Caucus and is a member of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC) where he also serves in a leadership role as CHC Whip. He is also chairman of the CHC Task Force for Transportation, Infrastructure and Housing. Rep. Espaillat’s Congressional District includes Harlem, East Harlem, northern Manhattan and the north-west Bronx. To find out more about Rep. Espaillat, visit online at https://espaillat.house.gov/.

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