Racial inequities in housing—the result of decades of discrimination by all levels of government and the private sector—are well-documented, as are their insidious effects. These disparities demand responses, and cities across the country are working to develop new and innovative housing policies that redress the harms of discrimination. However, the legal considerations involved in crafting policies to address racial disparities in housing can be complex, given the Supreme Court’s interpretation of the Fourteenth Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause as well as the federal Fair Housing Act. This brief provides an introduction to the legal frameworks governing housing initiatives that aim to address racial disparities, with the goal of equipping local policymakers to assess the risks of different approaches and develop locally-appropriate, legally sound strategies. The brief addresses a non-legal audience; however, readers with legal backgrounds can find more detailed legal analysis and citations in footnotes.
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