Amy M. Glassman and Nydia M. Pouyes, attorneys in Ballard Spahr's nationally acclaimed Real Estate Department, have written the Beginner's Guide to the Fair Housing Act, a book published by the American Bar Association. The new guide provides an overview of the Fair Housing Act (FHA) and related federal, state, and local housing laws, and discusses significant recent developments related to the FHA that will impact housing providers in the coming years.

"We are in the midst of a significant period in the evolution of fair housing law in the United States, so it's important that housing owners and developers and their legal counsel stay current on the law, recent developments, and their potential impact," said Ms. Glassman. "Fair housing is an important right. The Beginner's Guide to the Fair Housing Act is designed to help those working in or with the housing industry to understand what that means in terms of their responsibilities and rights under the law." 

Passed into law by Congress in 1968, the FHA prohibits housing discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, family status (presence of children under the age of 18), or disability. Since that time, a number of other federal, state, and local laws have been established to protect the rights of certain groups to fairly access housing. Several recent developments affect housing law and practice, including the U.S. Supreme Court's 2015 confirmation that, in addition to banning overt or intentional discrimination, the FHA prohibits disparate impact—policies, practices, rules, or other systems that, despite the appearance of neutrality, result in a disproportionate impact on protected groups. Disparate impact theory can be applied to all types of housing providers, whether government, nonprofit or for-profit.

Other recent developments that Ms. Glassman and Ms. Pouyes discuss include the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) finalizing the agency's first regulation governing HUD funding recipients' responsibility to affirmatively further fair housing (AFFH) and to plan for the same using a HUD-established planning tool. Additionally, the authors address HUD's Equal Access Rule—which prohibits discriminatory conduct in HUD-assisted or -insured housing related to a person's actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender identity, or marital status—and HUD's proposed new rule on hostile housing environments.

Ms. Glassman, of counsel with the firm, has extensive experience with HUD regulatory and statutory compliance issues. She advises and represents clients on housing issues, including fair housing, accessibility, and disability issues related to the FHA and other laws, encompassing policy development, defense of litigation, development issues, and fair housing investigations.

Ms. Pouyes, an associate with the firm, represents public housing authorities on a variety of issues, including fair housing matters, public housing demolition and disposition, federal procurement requirements, mixed-finance transactions, Rental Assistance Demonstration transactions, relationships with public housing affiliates and instrumentalities, uses of program income, and tenant-based and project-based housing choice vouchers.

For more information, to see an overview and excerpt of the book, or to order Beginner's Guide to the Fair Housing, visit Shop ABA.

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