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Supreme Court: Housing Discrimination Illegal, Even if Unintended

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In a victory for low-income people of color, the Supreme Court has ruled 5-4 that federal housing laws prohibit even “seemingly neutral” housing policies that end up hurting minorities, the Associated Press (AP) reported, noting that these laws have been “a key tool used for more than four decades to fight housing discrimination.”

According to Reuters, Inclusive Communities Project Inc., a nonprofit that works to place low-income tenants in wealthier, majority white Dallas suburbs, sued the state of Texas over its law that “disproportionately” awarded “low-income housing tax credits to developers who own property in poor, minority-dominated neighborhoods.” AP said the state law “kept low-income housing out of white neighborhoods.”

Reuters noted that there is no dispute that the federal Fair Housing Act prohibits “openly discriminatory acts in the sale and rental of housing.”

The AP said the ruling “preserves a legal strategy” used “to attack discrimination in zoning laws, occupancy rules, mortgage lending practices and insurance underwriting” and is “a defeat for banks, insurance companies and other business groups” that claimed the Fair Housing Act does not explicitly allow such lawsuits.

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