Monday, January 27, 2020

The Trump Administration Is Clearing the Way for Housing Discrimination -- The attack on the Fair Housing Act is reckless and wrong. (NY Times)

DONALD JOHN TRUMP and his father, FRED TRUMP, were guilty of massive race and religion discrimination in rental housing in New York City.  The Nixon Administration successfully sued them and won.  The TRUMP's response was to hire rebarbative reprobate ROY MARCUS COHN to file a bogus $100,000,000 lawsuit, which was  not based in reality. Yes, past is prologue.

Fair Housing laws must be enforced better.  Circa 1968-9, my father was told by NAACP, "congratulations, Mr. Slavin, you're the only Realtor in South Jersey who would show a black family a home in West Berlin, N.J."  HUD and NAACP use testers to detect discrimination, and my dad passed the test.  I was proud of my dad.  He believed in equality and stood up for principle.  In 1976, during our Bicentennial year, as a student at Georgetown University, I stood up against racism at rental housing on Capitol Hill and won, though the racist resident manager tried to have me evicted in retaliation.  She left town and our building was desegregated.

Here in St. Augustine, there are some Realtors of whom we are not proud, like the one that discriminated against a mixed-race couple, Ken & Lauren Bryan. Ken was a veteran and USDOJ retiree who could not find a local lawyer to take his case. They ended up buying a home in Pelican Reef, rather than buying an existing home because of racism. J. Kenneth Bryan was later elected by the good people of St. Johns County as our District 5 County Commissioner, 2008-2012.

From The New York Times:

The Trump Administration Is Clearing the Way for Housing Discrimination

The attack on the Fair Housing Act is reckless and wrong.
Mr. Donovan was secretary of housing and urban development.

Credit...Kholood Eid for The New York Times

On Monday, the nation honored the towering legacy of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. But the progress he demanded remains unfinished, and nowhere more than in the deeply segregated neighborhoods many of us call home. Dr. King understood that where a person lives determines so many of their opportunities, including access to good jobs, schools, health care, food and safety. Barely a week after Dr. King’s assassination, Congress passed the Fair Housing Act with overwhelming bipartisan support in recognition of this truth.
In the more than 50 years since its passage, the Fair Housing Act has helped fight discrimination in mortgage lending, zoning restrictions that prevent people from being able to choose where to live, and local landlord abuses. In 1973, the United States government used it to charge Fred Trump and his son, our current president, with housing discrimination. Rather than fight those charges, the Trumps signed a consent decree requiring changes to the way they managed their properties. The Fair Housing Act was the only backstop for the people the Trump family discriminated against, and now the Trump administration is seeking to gut its protections.
Key to those protections are two principles established by Congress and enforced by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), where I was secretary under President Barack Obama. The first is “disparate impact,” which makes clear that policies or practices that discriminate against people of color or other protected groups are illegal even without proof they are intentional. For example, if white couples are regularly approved for mortgages but black couples with the same qualifications are rejected, the bank must fix their loan process, even if its employees didn’t have racist intentions. Under disparate impact, it’s the results that matter.
The second is a mandate that communities “affirmatively further fair housing,” which requires government to promote greater opportunity and integration as well as fight discrimination. For example, if a city’s affordable housing is all located in black neighborhoods with failing schools, limited transportation, and poor health care, that city must make an effort to fix the problems in those neighborhoods and build new affordable housing in other neighborhoods, in addition to ensuring there’s no racial discrimination when any of the individual apartments are rented out.
At HUD, I codified and strengthened these principles. In 2013, the agency issued a formal disparate impact regulation based on decades of unanimous judicial consensus. And in the most important civil rights decision involving housing in a generation, the Supreme Court upheld the disparate impact principle in 2015, recognizing it as consistent with the “central purpose” of the Fair Housing Act. I also began improving HUD’s approach to affirmatively furthering fair housing and my successor, Julián Castro, completed it with a regulation in 2015.
Unfortunately, the Trump administration is now taking steps to dismantle this progress. Last year, the administration issued a proposed regulation that would gut the disparate impact standard. The proposal imposes nearly impossible requirements on those who would bring a disparate impact claim, and insulates the insurance industry and other businesses that rely on technological algorithms in their decision-making, even when they generate bias.

Credit...Doug Mills/The New York Times
And this month, HUD issued a proposed rule that would fundamentally undermine the affirmatively furthering standard. The proposal would largely strip away the expectation that communities provide housing that fights segregation and increases opportunity, weaken penalties and reinstate a discredited enforcement process. In addition to the obvious conflict of interest for a president who was prosecuted under the Fair Housing Act and stands to benefit personally from these proposed rules, they are reckless and wrong for three key reasons:
First, housing plays a key role in advancing economic opportunity and closing the wealth gap between people of color and white Americans. African-Americans and Latinos have less than one-tenth and one-eighth, respectively, of the household wealth of white Americans, and homeownership remains the largest source of wealth-building for most families. Moreover, where a family lives determines access to jobs, schools, and a healthy environment. If we believe our children’s futures shouldn’t be determined by the ZIP code where they grow up, we need the disparate impact and affirmatively furthering standards to weed out and replace unjustifiable policies that limit opportunity.

The Fair Housing Act was enacted with bipartisan support and championed by Democrats and Republicans alike over five decades because it aligns with fundamental American values: fairness, freedom of choice and opportunity for all. Instead of undermining these values, the Trump administration should honor Martin Luther King by withdrawing its proposed rules.

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