Press Call: Proposal from HUD to Effectively Eliminate Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing Rule Weakens Enforcement of Fair Housing Laws, Reinforces Decades of Discriminatory Practices
Washington, D.C. – On January 15, the National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC) joined the Alliance for Housing Justice, Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, National Fair Housing Alliance, and the National Housing Law Project on a press call to share opposition to this Administration’s efforts to gut the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) rule. The AFFH rule is a critical tool to fight housing discrimination and rolling it back would allow communities to ignore the essential racial desegregation obligations of fair housing law.
The proposed rule released by the U.S. Housing and Urban Development (HUD) just a little over one week before Martin Luther King, Jr. Day would effectively eliminate the AFFH mandate under the Fair Housing Act. Congress passed the Fair Housing Act one week after the assassination of Dr. King in 1968 as an honorific to the civil rights leader who had fought for passage of the bill. It remains an important part of his legacy.
In response to HUD’s proposal, a coalition of advocacy groups launched fightforhousingjustice.org, where those who oppose the rule and support the fight against housing discrimination can learn more about the rule and submit a comment to HUD.
“Secretary Carson’s proposal is a complete retreat from critical efforts to undo historic, government-driven patterns of housing discrimination and segregation throughout the U.S.,” said Diane Yentel, president and CEO, NLIHC. “This proposed rule underscores Secretary Carson’s fundamental misunderstanding or willful misreading of the Fair Housing Act and its obligations. His proposal would allow communities to ignore the essential racial desegregation obligations of fair housing law and is the latest of Secretary Carson’s attempts to weaken and disrupt HUD’s fair housing duties. Secretary Carson must abandon the ill-conceived proposal to gut the AFFH and instead work to vigorously enforce his obligation to further fair housing in our country.”
“With these proposed changes to AFFH and HUDs fair housing policies, Trump and his administration are simply trying to remove regulations to allow his developer friends to profit off of discrimination, exploitation and displacement,” said Maria Zamudio, associate director, Housing Rights Committee of San Francisco with the Alliance for Housing Justice and Homes for All. “We can see through these false solutions. Our communities are organizing to protect ourselves and are winning new protections to fight for real solutions to the housing crisis. Instead of gutting fair housing protections, HUD and the federal government should invest in renter protections like rent control and just cause eviction protections, full funding to rehabilitate and maintain public housing, and in millions of new units of social housing for all people that is safe, dignified and sustainable for our people and the planet.”
“The 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing Rule was a historic victory for the civil rights movement,” said Kristen Clarke, president and executive director, Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. “Secretary Carson should do the right thing: withdraw this disastrous proposal and take steps to restart the implementation of the 2015 rule. Secretary Carson not only seeks to dismantle HUD’s system for providing oversight of its fair housing grantees, the proposed rule also doubles as a transparently ideological attack on equitable local policies that advance racial and economic justice. In no uncertain terms, we condemn this latest attempt by Secretary Carson to undermine fair housing efforts in our country.”
“This proposed rule is not a fair housing rule at all. It is a deregulation rule, cloaked in affordable housing language masquerading as a fair housing rule,” said Lisa Rice, president and CEO, National Fair Housing Alliance. “This rule represents the antithesis of what fair housing is all about. It discards the anti-discrimination, equity and opportunity lenses that were key features of the 2015 regulation. It takes a free-market approach to solve issues of inequality and segregation – a model that has never worked. It discards the requirement for jurisdictions and public housing authorities to complete a comprehensive analysis of barriers to fair housing and adopt plans to overcome them. It also does not give jurisdictions the directed guidance they requested to enable them to fulfill their fair housing obligations and will likely open them up to increased liability. The GAO issued a report admonishing HUD for not effectively enforcing the AFFH mandate. The 2015 rule addressed the GAO’s findings and incorporated its recommendations. This rule does neither. HUD must abandon this ill-fated effort and reinstate the 2015 regulation post haste.”
“HUD has proposed a rule that advances the Trump Administration's deregulation agenda under the guise of fair housing,” said Shamus Roller, executive director, National Housing Law Project. “Make no mistake: this rule promotes neither fair housing nor affordable housing objectives. Instead, this proposal continues the Administration’s pattern of attacking civil rights and housing access. HUD’s proposal releases jurisdictions from having to examine whether they are perpetuating discrimination and segregation. Pretending our country’s legacy of housing discrimination does not exist is not a valid federal housing policy. Putting our heads in the sand will not suddenly create inclusive communities, nor will it address the enduring impacts of practices such as redlining and government-sanctioned segregation."
The audio from the January 15 press call is available here.
About NLIHC: Established in 1974 by Cushing N. Dolbeare, the National Low Income Housing Coalition is dedicated solely to achieving socially just public policy that ensure people with the lowest income in the United States have affordable and decent homes.
About #FightForHousingJustice: The National Housing Law Project, the National Low Income Housing Coalition, and other partners are leading this effort to oppose HUD's latest effort to undermine Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing.