Fair Housing Protections Expand
The Fair Housing Act of 1968 has been a beacon of hope for individuals whom are at risk, or have experienced discrimination when it comes to living quarters and conditions. The Fair Housing Act, at its simplest interpretation, outlaws the refusal to sell or rent a dwelling to any person because of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin SCOTUS recently rekindled the light of hope that the FHA brings to many Americans, by ruling in favor of enhanced protections in Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs v. Inclusive Community Project.
Even though the Fair Housing Act has been supported numerous times in lower courts and in the Supreme Court, this case was slightly different from what had been seen previously. The case’s merits were based on the notion that intentional discrimination/racism be present, but merely that a disparate impact could be proven based on the actions of an entity (business or individual land owner). The Justices who wrote in the majority opinion, including Justice Kennedy, argued that the history of the social rights movement as well as the history of law supported the liberal interpretation of the FHA.
Specifically, in this case, the Inclusive Community Project (which helps low-income black families – mostly – find affordable housing in Dallas, Texas) argued that though landlords were following the rules of the FHA, by accepting vouchers for low-income housing, that the vouchers were disproportionately given to landlords in low-income, high-crime, neighborhoods. This practice they argued, produced the disparate impact on the black families, and subjected them to only being able to find housing in certain types of communities.
As we continue to think about the expansion of supportive legislation to be inclusive of items like Gender Expression, Sexual Orientation, and other factors…
While not ground-breaking, nor a landmark decision (this case and its opinions will likely have sunken into the night long before this writing), the SCOTUS decision to further provide protections to classes that experience discrimination, be that based on race or other factors, is helpful in continuing to push our Country and its systems into a place of equity and equality. As we continue to think about the expansion of supportive legislation to be inclusive of items like Gender Expression, Sexual Orientation, and other factors – we must remember that often these changes come incrementally. This SCOTUS decision, while not overtly special, is a good step in the right direction.