January 21, 2015

Kaine Statement As Supreme Court Hears Arguments In Housing Discrimination Case

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Tim Kaine released the following statement surrounding oral arguments in Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs v. Inclusive Communities Project before the Supreme Court.  

“As a fair housing attorney for nearly two decades, I specialized in representing people who had been denied housing due to their race or disability.  I know that discrimination in housing does not have to be intentional to result in unfair and damaging effects on communities. That is why the disparate impact doctrine is so important – it allows plaintiffs to challenge a law or practice by proving its discriminatory effect. A decision by the Supreme Court to invalidate this doctrine would reverse a tool used by 11 federal court of appeals in deciding housing discrimination cases since passage of the Fair Housing Act in 1968. The availability of a safe, affordable home is part of the American dream, and we should be working to see that dream become a reality for all Americans. I remain committed to ensuring that affordable housing is made available to all citizens.”

In this case, the Inclusive Communities Project, a non-profit that uses subsidized vouchers to help low-income and minority families find affordable housing, argues that actions by the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs have perpetuated housing segregation. The group alleges that the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs disproportionately required landlords in minority neighborhoods to accept the non-profit’s housing vouchers but allowed landlords in similar white neighborhoods to deny those vouchers. The Inclusive Communities Project argues that this is discriminatory based on the disparate impact doctrine—that a practice has a discriminatory effect even if it was not based on a discriminatory intent—and the Court will consider whether this doctrine can be used to prove the group’s allegations.

Kaine spent much of his career fighting for affordable, non-discriminatory housing policies.  In 1984, he led the first meeting of the Virginia Coalition to End Homelessness.  As a Richmond lawyer, he represented Housing Opportunities Made Equal, Inc. (HOME) in their historic suit against Nationwide Mutual Insurance for industry-wide redlining practices in the issuance of homeowners insurance. 

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