From Houston Chronicle / Photo: Julio Cortez, STF / Associated Press

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) published a proposed rule in the Federal Register on Monday. The rule changes the definition of its Fair Housing Act Disparate Impact Rule. The proposed rule states that in order to sue for discrimination under the Fair Housing Act, the plaintiff would have to prove the intent to discriminate. Currently the rule states that defendants are liable for discrimination even when there is no intent to discriminate. Plaintiffs only have to prove that an action could have the effect of discrimination.

Statement from HUD Secretary Ben Carson

“There is a lack of affordable housing in America today,” said HUD Secretary Ben Carson. “This proposed rule is intended to increase legal clarity and promote the production and availability of housing in all areas while making sure every person is treated fairly under the law. As we have shown time and again, we will challenge any practice that discriminates against people that the law protects. At the end of the day, this rule not only increases Americans’ access to fair and affordable housing, but also permits businesses and local governments to make valid policy choices.”

Read full press release on the disparate impact rule from HUD

Housing advocates have wasted no time to condemn the proposed rule.

“The National Fair Housing Alliance strongly condemns HUD’s proposed rule that would effectively gut the ‘disparate impact’ tool under the Fair Housing Act. This rule is a blatant attempt to destroy hard-won protections against housing discrimination in this country, and we will stop it,” said Lisa Rice, president and CEO of the National Fair Housing Alliance in a press release.

HUD will accept comments on the proposed rule until Oct. 18. Click here to submit a comment.