New federal rule will make it harder to challenge discrimination in the housing industry, lawsuits allege

Civil rights groups on Thursday filed a pair of lawsuits against the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and HUD Secretary Ben Carson for weakening an Obama-era rule meant to keep lenders, landlords and insurers from discriminating.

The 2013 rule was aimed at barring the housing industry from enacting policies that, while formally race-neutral, have an adverse effect on Black and Latino Americans. These include requiring tenants to undergo a criminal-background check, prohibiting the construction of multifamily housing and using artificial intelligence to predict creditworthiness.

The rule, codifying a decades-old legal standard known as “disparate impact,” survived a 2015 Supreme Court challenge. But the Trump administration, which has consistently rolled back civil rights protections in housing and other aspects of American life, finalized a new rule in September that housing advocates say would make it harder to prove such forms of bias. Read more.

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