The U.S. Supreme Court is scheduled to hear oral argument tomorrow, January 21st, in Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs v. The Inclusive Communities Project, Inc., the case presenting the issue whether disparate-impact claims are cognizable under the Fair Housing Act.

Ballard Spahr attorneys have written an amicus brief submitted by the Houston Housing Authority (HHA).  HHA develops and operates affordable housing developments and provides related services to more than 58,000 low-income residents of Houston, Texas.  The HHA amicus brief supports the petitioners’ position that disparate-impact claims are not cognizable under the FHA.  It argues that the FHA does not contain effects-based language and that the FHA’s legislative history does not demonstrate that Congress intended the FHA to proscribe adverse effects.

HHA filed its brief in support of the petitioners because use of the disparate-impact theory of liability has prevented HHA, and similarly-situated affordable housing developers and operators, from carrying out their mission to use federal programs to develop affordable housing for Houston residents and to invest in low-income communities.  HHA’s brief asserts that the disparate-impact theory of liability frustrates the purpose of the FHA by severely retarding the development of affordable housing and stymying investments in under-served communities.