On April 23, Representative Paul Gosar (R-AZ) introduced the Local Zoning and Property Rights Protection Act (H.R. 1995) that would prohibit HUD from implementing its proposed Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) rule. The final AFFH rule has been at the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs at the Office of Management and Budget since January 10 and is expected to be published later this spring or early summer.
Specifically, the bill would require HUD to withdraw both the proposed AFFH rule, published in the Federal Register on July 19, 2013 (see Memo, 7/19/13), and the notice on the AFFH Assessment Tool published in the Federal Register on September 26, 2014 (see Memo, 9/29/14).
The Fair Housing Act of 1968 prohibits housing discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, familial status, national origin, or handicap – the “protected classes” of people. The act also requires HUD’s program participants to take steps to actively overcome historic patterns of segregation and promote fair housing choice. Advocates and many others recognize that the current practice of affirmatively furthering fair housing choice has not been effective. The new rule is expected to be an improvement.
Mr. Gosar’s bill would also require HUD to consult with states, local governments, and public housing agencies in developing recommendations to affirmatively further fair housing in a manner consistent with the Supreme Court’s jurisprudence on federalism. The consultation must “represent a broad cross-section of regional, economic, and geographic perspectives in the United States,…allow for meaningful and timely input,” and explore whether AFFH objectives can be achieved without federal regulations.
The results of the consultation would then be published as a draft report in the Federal Register, describing any regulatory proposals or unresolved policy disagreements. The report would then be open for public review and comment. After reviewing public comments, HUD, in consultation with state and local officials, would issue a final report.
When introducing the bill, Mr. Gosar stated, “Similar to other big government policies from [the Obama] administration, the flawed AFFH regulation will result in more harm than good by way of increased taxes, depressed property values, and further harm to impoverished communities. This is extortion and the Obama Administration should not be mandating that millions of dollars in grant money for local communities be dependent on turning over local zoning decisions to the federal government. Local zoning decisions have traditionally been, and should always be, made by local communities and municipalities. American citizens should be free to choose where they would like to live and not be subject to neighborhood engineering and gerrymandering at the behest of an overreaching federal government.”
The bill was referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary and has been cosponsored by Representatives Brian Babin (R-TX), Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Jim Bridenstine (R-OK), Rick Crawford (R-AR), Scott DesJarlais (R-LA), John Duncan (R-TN), Stephen Fincher (R-TN), Trent Franks (R-AZ), Louie Gohmert (R-TX), Glenn Grothman (R-WI), Doug LaMalfa (R-CA), Cynthia Lummis (R-WY), Tom Massie (R-KY), Tom McClintock (R-CA), Ted Poe (R-TX), Pete Sessions (R-TX), Randy Weber (R-TX), Lynn Westmoreland (R-GA), and Ted Yoho (R-FL).
In the 113th Congress, Mr. Gosar introduced an amendment to the House Appropriations bill (H.R. 4745) that would have prohibited any FY15 funds from being used to implement, administer, or enforce the proposed AFFH rule. That amendment passed by a vote of 219 to 207 but was not included in final FY15 spending bill.
Mr. Gosar’s press release is at http://gosar.house.gov/press-release/rep-gosar-introduces-bill-protect-local-zoning-decisions-new-obama-regulation
The text of the bill is at http://gosar.house.gov/sites/gosar.house.gov/files/GOSAR_038_xml.pdf
More information about AFFH is on page 7-1 of NLIHC’s 2015 Advocates’ Guide, http://nlihc.org/sites/default/files/Sec7.01_AFFH_2015.pdf