National & Local: Governmental Affairs

Governmental Affairs, May 2023
Legislative Update First Quarter


On March 17, 2023 HUD announced it submitted its Final Rule entitled Restoring HUD’s Discriminatory Effects Standard for publication in the Federal Register. This will go into effect next week. The Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in housing and housing-related services because of race, color, religion, national origin, sex (including sexual orientation and gender identity), familial status, and disability. The discriminatory effects doctrine (which includes disparate impact and perpetuation of segregation) is a tool for addressing policies that unnecessarily cause systemic inequality in housing, regardless of whether they were adopted with discriminatory intent. It has long been used to challenge policies that unnecessarily exclude people from housing opportunities, including zoning requirements, lending and property insurance policies, and criminal records policies.

Along those lines, HUD issued guidance on criminal background screenings, stating that overly broad screening criteria may have a disparate impact on individuals of a particular race, national origin, or other protected class in violation of the federal Fair Housing Act.  We’ve attached a link for you to review their submission.


At the beginning of the year we were faced with a few bills that deserved a watchful eye.  Many of these bills have failed to gain any traction.  These include providing certain rental protections to those diagnosed or suffering from PTDS, eliminating breed-specific dog bans, duty to provide new tenants with voter registration packets, prohibitions on evicting veterans unless for illegal conduct, to name a few.  There are few that are making their way through the process with some success and those include HB 184, which would put the financial burden on local government for required electric vehicle charging stations.  SLAA supports this bill and we’re hoping for a positive outcome.  Another bill we are tracking is HB 730 which seeks to place restrictions on future eviction moratoriums.  A similar bill was filed last year and while it made progress through the house, it ultimately never made it to a vote.  We are hoping for a successful outcome with HB 730 this year.  


At the beginning of the year, SLAR approached SLAA with the invitation to create a St. Louis City housing coalition.  This was in part, in response to information that St. Louis City would be creating new tenant protection laws.  On January 13th, Alderwoman Christine Ingrassia introduced Board Bill 180.  This ordinance establishes in part; a right to counsel for tenants facing eviction or equivalent proceedings, a mechanism to provide counsel for all tenants in covered proceedings, and a requirement for owners, agents of owners, and landlords to disclose to their tenants certain information regarding the right to counsel in covered proceedings.  This bill passed on February 10th.  This program will seek to provide a staff inclusive of lawyers, paralegals, and legal assistants whose collective duty will be to assist tenants in eviction litigation.  While the bill has passed and a proposed budgetary draft has been submitted, we do not have details on the reach of this program.  It is our hope that this program will help tenants and landlords come together in prelitigation services to resolve eviction issues prior to litigation.  We anticipate this bill to be the first of many and look forward to working with SLAR to advance positive and useful ordinances and programs that support the multifamily housing community of St. Louis City.