Earlier this year, fair housing advocates and activists breathed a collective sigh of relief when the U.S. Supreme Court preserved the disparate impact component of the Fair Housing Act, which is a key tool for discrimination investigations and charges. While the decision marked a key victory for housing justice, another case that could have a incredible impact on fair housing law is currently being argued in front of SCOTUS, and the decision is expected in 2016. Find out what’s at stake in this new fair housing issue before SCOTUS as well as what else is happening in fair housing in this week’s Fair Housing 5.
Many in the fair housing world have their eyes on the upcoming Spokeo, Inc. v. Robins case that’s currently being argued in the United States Supreme Court. At stake in the case is the concept of standing, which in non-legalese means the right to sue. SCOTUS’s decision on the case could have reverberations on how housing discrimination cases are pursued, especially if the courts will be focused more on the harm of the discriminatory act than the discriminatory act itself. [SCOTUSblog]
A civil rights lawsuit has been filed against the city of Pagedale, Missouri, claiming that the city employed “the abusive levying of fines or fees” against residents in order to generate revenue. The residents of Pagedale, which is a stone’s throw south of Ferguson, are predominantly Black. While the New York Times report doesn’t bother to mention race as a possible motivating factor for Pagedale’s city government, given what has happened in St. Louis County the past year – plus the history of housing discrimination in the United States in general – the analysis seems incomplete if not irresponsible to not consider how racism may have played into the city’s actions. [NYT]
Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro stopped in Minnesota last week to discuss the challenges to creating low-income housing in the Twin Cities area. As has been documented in other cities around the country, such housing in the area tends to get segregated to areas that are already low-income communities that are predoji The result is that “affluent and predominantly white communities, including first- and second-tier suburbs, have historically been less likely to pursue affordable housing projects.” And even if the need for affordable housing may be less within the limits of those communities, the absence of even that option But despite how built-in the lower need for such projects is within their borders, “the lack of diverse housing options stifles opportunities for low- and moderate-income people.” [Finance & Commerce]
The Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia has published a new report on the effects of gentrification on vulnerable residents of neighborhoods that are changing due to the influx of new, higher-income residents. The study revealed that not only do the effects of gentrification have “no significant evidence of higher mobility rates among existing vulnerable residents in gentrifying neighborhoods” but, worse, that those displaced by gentrification “have a higher risk of moving into lower-income neighborhoods or to neighborhoods with lower values on quality-of-life indicators.” [Philadelphia FED, via CityLab]
HUD has released guidance for housing providers that rely on government assitance on excluding the use of arrest records in housing decisions. The notice explains to public housing agencies “arrest records may not be the basis for denying admission, terminating assistance or evicting tenants.” The reasoning behind this information is, as far as HUD is concerned, an arrest is not synonymous with a conviction because many arrests do not lead to criminal charges. Even in those cases, HUD reasons, those convictions are sometimes dismissed. [HUD]
(Photo: “The Supreme Court,” by Tim Sackton. Licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0 via Creative Commons.)