San Diego Law Review

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This Article illustrates how Congress did not adopt this anti-segregation legislation in a vacuum. Rather, as the Supreme Court recently acknowledged, the FHA was a response to racial segregation. Congress enacted the legislation days after Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination and on the heels of the Kerner Commission’s report, which identified segregation as the cause of unprecedented nationwide civil unrest.

Part II of this Article demonstrates how housing is a major determinant of health, identifies the extent to which our nation is segregated, and illustrates how segregation exacerbates health inequities among racial and ethnic lines. Part III presents the historical landscape during which the FHA was adopted to demonstrate its primary purpose of dismantling segregation, by detailing the Kerner Commission, housing justice work spearheaded by Dr. King before his assassination, and the Supreme Court’s early FHA decisions. Part IV sets forth the FHA’s statutory framework and presents the perpetuation-of-segregation theory of disparate-impact liability, focusing on claims against government entities. This Article concludes by arguing the time is ripe for this nation to wage a war on segregation. Such an effort is not only possible within the current legal landscape, but also necessary to effectuate the FHA’s purpose at a time when the nation is at risk of deepening segregation and widening disparities due to the COVID-19 public health crisis.

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