New HUD Rule Bolsters Housing-Bias Law
Wall Street Journal
February 8, 2013
Timiraos, Nick; Scism, Leslie
HUD has issued a so-called disparate-impact rule, hoping to improve enforcement of a 45-year-old law against housing discrimination perpetrated by lenders, insurers, landlords, and municipalities. The new regulation allows plaintiffs to use a statistical analysis to demonstrate that lenders or cities promoted policies that had a disproportionately adverse impact on minorities. Consequently, plaintiffs could claim violations fair-housing laws without necessarily proving that cities or lenders intended the discrimination. The rule has pushed by civil-rights groups, which argue that it will make it easier to combat housing discrimination. On the opposing side is the financial-services industry, which has maintained that the new rule would result in higher costs for consumers. Insurance Information Institute President Robert Hartwig states, "There's no question that the rule, if adopted in its current form, will raise the cost of homeowners insurance for potentially millions of home buyers . . . at the worst possible time for them, for the economy, and for the still-fragile housing market."
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