When Families Face Housing Discrimination, Too
By Rachel M. Cohen | Jul 10, 2015
This week HUD unveiled new rules for the Fair Housing Act—a law passed in 1968 that was meant to both protect selected groups from discrimination and also “affirmatively further” fair housing. The new resources and regulations, HUD officials hope, will enable more Americans to access affordable housing in high-opportunity areas.
The new HUD rules come on the heels of a major Supreme Court decision affirming that unintentional housing discrimination still amounts to housing discrimination. (For more on this case read Richard Rothstein’s comprehensive Prospect report.)
While most media outlets have rightly focused on how these new developments can impact racially segregated communities, the SCOTUS ruling will also help another protected class under the Fair Housing Act—families.
Though it’s not very well known, it’s illegal under the law to discriminate against someone for his or her familial status. This means that if you’re living in an apartment building, or a condominium, or a house—there generally cannot be specific rules that apply to families with children, children, or even single individuals.
Unsurprisingly, many landlords and homeowner groups still do discriminate regularly based on familial status, and many residents are unaware that this is against the law.
But some residents, like John Jordan, who lives in a D.C. co-op with his wife and nine-year-old daughter, do know their rights and are fed up with being subjected to rules that violate Fair Housing Act protections. Their daughter was riding a scooter around their co-op’s plaza recently when a security guard told her she had to stop because of rules that govern what children can and can’t do there. After several unsuccessful attempts to raise their concerns with the co-op board, John and his wife filed a formal complaint with HUD.
“I don’t appreciate that my daughter can’t do something that other people can do, and frankly the enforcement of this co-op rule is against the law,” he told me.