Published January, 1977

Metro. Hous. Develop. Corp. v. Vill. of Arlington Heights, 558 F.2d 1283 (7th Cir. 1977)

The Seventh Circuit held that even if a denial of rezoning was not motivated by illegitimate animus, a showing of disparate impact or discriminatory effect could be sufficient to prove a violation of the Fair Housing Act (FHA). In this case, a local housing authority requested a zoning change in order to accommodate construction of several units of low-income housing in an area zoned for single-family residential buildings. The town denied the request and the housing authority alleged racial discrimination in violation of the FHA. The court enumerated four factors that would demonstrate a disparate impact violation. First, the court must look to the strength of the plaintiff's evidence considering the disparate impact itself. Second, it must consider whether there was some evidence of discriminatory intent, even if this evidence by itself would not prove a violation solely due to discriminatory intent. (The court noted that this factor was the least important of the four). Third, the court must consider the defendant's interest in taking the action complained of. Lastly, the court must take into account the relief the plaintiff has requested, i.e., whether he is seeking affirmative action or merely restraint from interference. Many jurisdictions use this test to analyze a disparate impact violation of the FHA for alleged discrimination of all kinds, including disability based discrimination against people living with HIV.

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