Signs of Life from the Fair Housing Act

The Fair Housing Act, considered under threat by the Trump Administration and the Republican majority in Congress, still has power, but cities have long road ahead to prove bans liable for harms caused by predatory and discriminatory lending.

2 minute read

May 14, 2017, 5:00 AM PDT

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell

Supreme Court Statue

Mark Fischer / flickr

"The U.S. Supreme Court ruled Monday that the city of Miami can sue the nation’s largest financial institutions over allegations that predatory lending practices in minority communities violated the Fair Housing Act and contributed to a real estate meltdown that nearly bankrupted the city," report Lance Dixon and David Smiley.

In effect, the ruling protects the right of the city to sure the banks, but Dixon and Smiley describe the court victory as partial: "the justices also vacated the portion of the 11th Circuit’s ruling that found the city had sufficiently argued that the banks’ activities can be directly blamed for the city’s financial problems on the basis that the fallout should have been foreseeable. They directed the court to reassess that issue, with the three dissenting justices remaining highly skeptical that the city can prove its case."

That being said, the ruling opens the door for cities all over the country to sue banks for discriminatory and predatory lending. Similar lawsuits are pending in Los Angeles, Cook County in Illinois, Oakland, and Miami Gardens.

There's another takeaway from the court ruling, as expressed in a follow-up article by Oscar Perry Abello: "The Fair Housing Act (FHA) lives, for now." Perry Abello quotes from a statement released by the American Civil Liberties Union following the Supreme Court decision, with this soundbite from Dennis Parker, director of the ACLU’s Racial Justice Program: "With this decision, the Supreme Court has acknowledged the crucial role of municipal governments in protecting residents’ rights. In housing and lending as in other areas, cities can and should serve as a bulwark against discrimination."

Monday, May 1, 2017 in Miami Herald

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