At Edge2Learn, we strive to keep multifamily industry partners advised of evolving changes in our industry. Recently, President Biden has issued an Executive Order on Redressing Our Nation’s and the Federal Government’s History of Discriminatory Housing Practices and Policies. Clark Hill, who provides the course content for Edge2Learn’s Fair Housing, Sexual Harassment and Diversity and Inclusion courses shares insights on this Executive Order.
How Does President Biden’s Executive Order Affect the Housing Industry?
On January 26, 2021, President Biden issued a Memorandum for the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (“HUD”) titled, “Redressing Our Nation’s and the Federal Government’s History of Discriminatory Housing Practices and Policies”.
HUD must take all necessary steps as soon as practicable to examine the effects of the August 7, 2020 Rule during President Trump’s Administration entitled, “Preserving Community and Neighborhood Choice”.
President Biden further directed HUD as soon as practicable to examine the effects of the September 24, 2020 Final Rule during President Trump’s Administration entitled “HUD’s Implementation of the Fair Housing Act’s Disparate Impact Standard. ‘(September 2020, Final Rule).
Disparate Impact Analysis
It appears the Executive Order will support the reinstatement of the disparate impact analysis that focuses on housing and mortgage lending practices that may have excluded and resulted in a disproportionate negative impact on people of color, immigrants, individuals with disabilities, and LGBTQ+ individuals.
The heart of the disparate impact standard under the Biden Administration will likely include the identification of targeting zoning, tax credit allocation, land use laws, and housing restrictions that function to unfairly exclude or disproportionately affect those in protected classes (race, color, religion, national origin, sex, disability, familial status) within certain neighborhoods and communities without sufficient justification.
The disparate impact standard under the Biden Administration will also likely scrutinize arbitrary and discriminatory ordinances and unconscious prejudices that bar the construction of certain types of housing units.
What Can You Do Now?
To the extent possible, communities are encouraged to assess their housing policies and practices to ensure they are not discriminatory and ensure they are proactively in compliance with the objectives above in order to decrease the chances of close scrutiny or penalties from appropriate federal agencies for violations of Fair Housing.
While there is not currently a federal law requiring that LGBTQ+ individuals be treated equally, the Biden Administration has made clear an intent to focus on that requirement and as a result new legislation may ultimately be imposed. While courts will be left to interpret the Fair Housing Act, Executive Orders create additional requirements of varying standards for enforceability.
At this time, the best advice is to review policies and explore how to ensure that LGBTQ+ individuals are not discriminated against. Accommodating such groups should not lead to additional liability, but failing to do so may certainly lead to claims in the future as this area of the law evolves.
At Edge2Learn, although our courses state to treat everyone equally and fairly, do not place yourself or company in a vulnerable position just because the current definition of protected classes does not include sexual orientation and gender identity. Review company Fair Housing policies and consider revisions in preparation for the likelihood of adding sexual orientation and gender identity as protected classes.
Edge2Learn is an eLearning company whose focus is the Property Management Industry and specializes in property management training and multifamily education. With over 30 years of experience and a commitment to increase industry excellence, we are passionate about engaging learners to maximize benefits for both companies and employees. Aligned with a well-respected industry leader, Ellis, Partners in Management Solutions, the Edge2Learn platform provides a turnkey solution for clearly identified needs and opportunities. We prepare learners to deliver a superior customer experience and also reduce corporate liability risks and overall employee turnover.