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Supreme Court makes decision on housing discrimination

Maryland residents who have been victimized by housing discrimination may gain some relief following a narrow decision by the U.S. Supreme Court. The June 2015 ruling upheld the applicability of the federal Fair Housing Act to a case in which the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs. In this case, Dallas officials had applied federal vouchers more predominantly in low-income neighborhoods, and the court ruled that such action could have a disparate impact on minorities and thus be subject to the FHA even if it wasn't intentional.

The Fair Housing Act, enacted in 1968, forbids housing, renting and lending discrimination based on certain factors such as race, religion, gender and disability. The concept of disparate impact, which involves a finding that certain zoning, lending and sales practices have more of an effect on certain groups of people, is not specifically addressed in the legislation.

White House officials believe that the new decision should lessen the impact of discriminatory practices, like exclusionary zoning and predatory lending. In their opinion, the justices said that certain legitimate government policies and actions taken by developers remained legal under the law, but news sources said that civil rights groups saw the move as a step in the right direction overall.

Housing discrimination isn't always blatant. In some cases, developers and city officials may employ zoning regulations and other laws to drive low-income and minority individuals away under pretense of valid action. In some cases, practices like redlining, or denying basic services such as supermarkets, health care and banking to low-income neighborhoods, place people at a major disadvantage. Those who have feel that they have been victimized by such a practice may wish to speak with an attorney to determine if any recourse is available.

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