Op-ed and Webinar: Eva Paterson on Disparate Impact as a Tool to Lessen Racism in Housing and Beyond

Op-Ed in the San Francisco Chronicle by Eva Paterson: ‘Stand up to Trump’s attempt to gut the Fair Housing Act’

In an op-ed today in the San Francisco Chronicle, Equal Justice Society President Eva Paterson urges all Californians who believe in fair housing opportunities to send written comments to HUD by Oct. 18 stating why fair housing is important to them and their families.

“Trump’s Department of Housing and Urban Development wants to make it next to impossible for victims of housing discrimination to use ‘disparate impact’ — a critical tool for fighting housing discrimination,” writes Eva. “HUD’s proposed rule will make it much harder to prove disparate impact, a bedrock legal principle that has been used for nearly 50 years to challenge discriminatory behavior by lenders, landlords and many others.”

“The proposed rule appears designed to protect the profit margins of powerful industries while allowing widespread harm to millions of people across the country who should be protected under the Fair Housing Act.”

Read the op-ed here and please submit your comment against the HUD rule change by Oct. 18 online at https://www.fightforhousingjustice.org.


Eva Paterson on Oct. 3 Webinar Panel on Rolling Back Disparate Impact and the Repercussions for Civil Rights

A webinar presented by the ABA Civil Rights and Social Justice Section on Thursday, October 3, featured leading civil rights experts discussing the history and importance of disparate impact for civil rights. They shared ways for the members of the legal community to engage to help protect this essential civil rights legal tool.

The long-standing “Disparate Impact” legal theory has been a crucial legal tool used to expose and address discrimination and uphold civil rights in a wide range of areas of life – housing, education, employment, healthcare, the environment, transportation, and the criminal justice system. This theory addresses how discriminatory actions, policies, and behaviors can have disproportionate effects on particular groups of people, regardless of discriminatory intent. Attempts to rollback disparate impact can have profoundly negative repercussions for civil rights in this nation, leaving individuals vulnerable to discriminatory treatment based upon race, color, national origin, disability status, sexual orientation, or other characteristics.

In the housing arena, the Department of Housing and Urban Development recently proposed a rule that would significantly weaken disparate impact liability under the Fair Housing Act. The proposed rule would allow financial institutions, insurance companies, and housing providers to engage covert discriminatory practices, such as refusing to make mortgage loans to certain individuals or discouraging purchase/rental to individuals based on personal characteristics like race. Comments for the proposed rule are due Oct. 18.

Panelists included:

– Eva Paterson, President and Co-Founder, Equal Justice Society
– Lisa Cylar Barrett, Director of Policy, NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund, Inc.
– Jennifer Mathis, Deputy Legal Director and Director of Policy and Legal Advocacy, Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law
– Sandra Park, Senior Attorney, ACLU Women’s Rights Project
– Leslie Proll, Civil Rights Attorney, Former Director NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (DC office)
– Moderator: Janel George, Co-Chair, CRSJ Civil Rights and Equal Opportunity Committee