6B. Unusual Suspects: Who Can Sue and be Sued under the Fair Housing Act
The Fair Housing Act (FHA) does not define who may sue or who may be sued for violating its substantive provisions. Rather, it provides a framework focused on prohibiting discriminatory practices. Any “aggrieved person” who has standing can bring a complaint. The FHA indicates that anyone who violates the FHA can be sued. Legal services and other attorneys have used this expansive framework to seek and obtain remedies for a range of housing and neighborhood-related harms that their clients have suffered based on race, disability, or other protected class that can be fairly traced to a defendant’s policy or action. For instance, in one case, a district court held that plaintiffs who were Medicaid recipients with mental disabilities and were turned away after applying to a low-income housing tax credit program could sue the State Medicaid program based on claims that its Medicaid Waiver violated the FHA. In another case, plaintiffs are using the FHA to hold a credit reporting agency accountable for discrimination. Participants will also discuss potential ways to use the FHA to reach practices of current concern to their communities.