By Elizabeth Zach, staff writerHouse

While the Affordable Care Act and same-sex marriage both enjoyed substantial wins (and attention) last week following rulings from the nation’s highest Court, there was another significant beneficiary: low-income housing.

Many housing advocates say that the Supreme Court’s decision to more broadly interpret the Fair Housing Act of 1968 will benefit low-income Americans. In short, last week’s ruling allows that plaintiffs who sue under the Act do not necessarily have to prove intentional discrimination, racial or otherwise. They may also rely on statistics which demonstrate what’s called a “disparate impact.”

In writing for the court’s majority, Justice Anthony M. Kennedy cited Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and unrest in the country’s inner cities.

“Much progress remains to be made in our nation’s continuing struggle against racial isolation,” he wrote. “The court acknowledges the Fair Housing Act’s continuing role in moving the nation toward a more integrated society.”

The Supreme Court case, Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs vs. The Inclusive Communities Project, Inc., was brought by the Texas housing group that helps mostly lower-income black families find homes in mostly white Dallas suburbs. The plaintiffs had claimed a violation of the Fair Housing Act, pointing to landlords in minority neighborhoods who receive a disproportionate share of tax credits, in a sense concentrating poverty in already poor neighborhoods.

“This case may be seen simply as an attempt,” he wrote, “to second-guess which of two reasonable approaches a housing authority should follow in the sound exercise of its discretion in allocating tax credits for low-income housing.”

In his dissent, Justice Samuel Alito wrote that the ruling could have an unintentional effect, whereby it prohibits discrimination “because of” race. He gave the example of the N.F.L drafting college athletes who are of racial minorities but who are also good players.

“Would anyone say the N.F.L. teams made (its) draft slots unavailable to white players ‘because of’ their race?” asked Alito.

But Kevin Stein of the California Reinvestment Coalition based in San Francisco, Calif., says that the Supreme Court’s more expansive interpretation of the Fair Housing Act is “a definite win, a relieving decision.”

It makes it easier, he said, to prove discrimination and “it basically affirms that disparate impact is an important tool for investigating housing discrimination. It’s more realistic because in the modern era, people don’t say overtly racist things but that doesn’t mean there’s no discrimination.”

Read more -> http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/14pdf