In 2014, eight Illinois organizations received over $2.8 million to help enforce fair housing rules. Budget cuts would limit these organizations’ ability to meet critical needs, such as conducting fair housing testing; supporting the recovery from the foreclosure crisis; and advancing the housing rights of people of color, people with disabilities, veterans, seniors, and other underserved communities.
The appropriations bill would also prohibit the implementation of HUD disparate impact regulations. Under the disparate impact doctrine, facially neutral polices or practices can be considered discriminatory if they disproportionately impact groups based on race, color, religion, national origin, age, sex, disability, or familial status (the “protected classes”) in a negative way, regardless of intent, and there is an alternative way to meet the legitimate goal of the policy or practice in a way that does create a disparate impact. The disparate impact doctrine has been a critical tool against systematic housing discrimination for many decades.
Housing segregation limits community growth and limits access to important resources such as hospitals, transportation, and better schools. Sen. Kirk and Sen. Durbin sit on the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (T-HUD) Appropriations Subcommittee, which gives them the unique opportunity to stand for protected populations and vote against the House’s budget cuts. Many families and individuals are just beginning to get back on their feet and find affordable housing in the wake of the housing market crash. Supporting and funding fair housing organizations will help provide protections for underserved populations so that they will have access to equitable housing opportunities.