On August 24, 2021, the Committee signed on to two sets of comments spearheaded by the Shriver Center on Poverty Law and Earthjustice in support of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s proposed rule Restoring HUD’s Discriminatory Effects Standard. The rule protects advocates’ ability to challenge neutral policies that have a discriminatory effect on members of protected class and is consistent with existing jurisprudence.
As noted by The Shriver Center’s comments, the proposed rule serves as an essential check against criminal records screening policies which have unjustified disparate effects upon people of color who are disproportionately arrested, convicted, and incarcerated. The reason for this is that the community targeted and impacted by such punitive criminal record screening policies is protected under the Fair Housing Act on the basis of race, national origin, and/or disability. In the environmental justice realm, disparate impact claims are essential because they serve as a key civil rights tool to fight housing and environmental injustices. Housing discrimination and/or environmental discrimination continue to cause grave harm to low-income and Black, Latinx, Indigenous, and other people of color, necessitating use of the disparate impact rule.