I try to avoid partisan politics here at the Fair Housing Defense Blog. As we have seen over the past year (and particularly over the past month), emotions on both sides can run hot. Nevertheless, I have had a couple of Blog readers ask my opinion about what President-elect Trump will mean for those of us in the professional apartment management world. The answer is: we don’t know.
This morning, the President-elect announced that he would nominate Dr. Ben Carson to serve as Secretary of the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Dr. Carson, who you may remember ran for the 2016 GOP presidential nomination, is a retired surgeon who served as the director of pediatric neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins University Hospital in Baltimore, MD. As a complete aside, the daughter of one of my good friends was operated on by Dr. Carson during his career and they speak very highly of his skills as a physician.
So, while Dr. Carson is literally a brain surgeon (which has to be a good thing), we just do not know his views on housing policy and what his initiatives for HUD might be. In the past, Dr. Carson has challenged efforts of the Obama administration to use its regulatory powers to increase racial integration in housing and he has not typically supported some of the policies put forward by various minority groups. We will certainly monitor Dr. Carson’s comments during his Senate confirmation hearings as well as what other incoming officials say and do related to housing generally and the Fair Housing Act (FHA) specifically.
A new administration will certainly mean change; although that change might not happen immediately. In my role as management’s lawyer, what I want is the ability to know what the law is and what is covered by our FHA and its regulations. From my seat, ambiguity is what I want to avoid. And remember, even if a new administration changes federal policy, we will still need to ensure management complies with various state and/or local anti-discrimination laws.
So, for now – follow the law as you have been. That includes the new 2016 HUD guidance concerning limits on criminal background screens as well as understanding that “disparate impact” remains covered under the FHA.
Just A Thought.