OCA v. Carson
What's at Stake
On October 22, 2020, the ACLU filed suit on behalf of Open Communities Alliance and SouthCoast Fair Housing against the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), challenging its new regulation on disparate impact discrimination under the Fair Housing Act.
Under the FHA, victims of housing discrimination have the right to bring disparate impact claims to challenge discriminatory housing practices that appear neutral but disproportionately harm people based on their race, gender, disability status, or status as a family with children. HUD’s new regulation makes it much more difficult for complainants to challenge policies that systemically discriminate, by significantly increasing what complainants must show to establish discrimination, easing the burdens placed on respondents, creating new exemptions from liability, and eliminating “perpetuation of segregation” as a form of discrimination.
The ACLU has a long history of bringing disparate impact claims, including challenging landlord policies of evicting victims of domestic violence based on the abuse they experience, tenant screening practices that disqualify anyone with a prior criminal record, and mortgage lending practices that harm people of color.
The complaint was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut and seeks permanent injunctive relief vacating the regulation. Co-counsel include the ACLU of Connecticut, Poverty & Race Research Action Council, Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, and Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll.