The Supreme Court’s 2015 decision on “disparate impact” in fair housing preserved a reading of the Fair Housing Act that has guided the country for the last half-century, however imperfectly. The 5-4 ruling affirmed that a housing policy that disproportionately negatively affects minorities counts as racial discrimination, even if that isn’t the policy’s explicit purpose. The ruling considers outcomes, not just intent.
That decision ensured that the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, under Secretary Julián Castro, could take an important step toward implementing Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing, the country’s long-term mission to reverse housing segregation. In introducing a new AFFH community assessment tool in 2015, HUD has made tangible progress toward this goal—by giving communities a blueprint to build a less segregated future.