The U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD) has announced that it is issuing a final rule to formalize the national standard for determining whether a housing practice violates the Fair Housing Act as the result of discriminatory effect. “Through the issuance of this Rule, HUD is reaffirming its commitment to enforcing the Fair Housing Act in a consistent and uniform manner,” said HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan. “This will ensure the continued strength of one of the most important tools for exposing and ending housing discrimination.” HUD is statutorily charged with the authority and responsibility for interpreting and enforcing the Fair Housing Act and has long interpreted the Act to prohibit housing practices with an unjustified discriminatory effect, if those acts actually or predictably result in a disparate impact on a group of persons, or create, increase, reinforce, or perpetuate segregated housing patterns because of race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, or national origin. “HUD is maintaining well-established legal precedent and formalizing a nationally consistent, uniform burden-shifting test for determining whether a given housing practice has an unjustified discriminatory effect,” said John Trasviña, HUD’s Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity. The rule provides clarity and consistency for individuals, businesses, and government entities subject to the Fair Housing Act. HUD anticipates the rule also will make it easier for individuals and organizations covered by the law to understand their responsibilities and comply with the law. The review process for the rule was expansive, transparent, and inclusive. Since January 2012, the Department solicited, received, and incorporated input based on comments from individuals, fair housing and legal aid organizations, Attorneys General, state housing finance agencies, public housing agencies, public housing trade associations, insurance companies, financial institutions, and numerous other entities. “The openness of this process allowed us to implement a rule that can be consistently and fairly applied,” said Trasvina.