Washington, D.C. – Today’s proposal from the U.S. Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to gut the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) rule represents a complete retreat from efforts to undo historic, government-driven patterns of housing discrimination and segregation throughout the U.S. 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 has suggested in the past that he would use the AFFH rule to lessen restrictive zoning practices that inhibit affordable housing production in certain communities, an important goal given the deep racial disparities created by some local zoning laws. But he fails in this regard as well, choosing to instead let localities off the hook by explicitly stating there will be no consequences if they keep their restrictive zoning laws.
Since the passing of the Fair Housing Act of 1968, the federal government, states, and local communities have been required by law to work to undo the segregation of communities that federal housing policy created in the first place. The requirement to affirmatively further fair housing is enshrined in this law, but no meaningful guidance existed until the AFFH rule was published in 2015. After several years of considerable input from stakeholders across the spectrum, the 2015 AFFH rule made the strongest effort in decades to reverse harmful patterns of segregation and discriminatory practices in communities across the country. The rule equipped communities with the tools and guidance they needed to meet their obligations under the Fair Housing Act, giving jurisdictions the flexibility to identify fair housing challenges and develop priorities and methods for addressing them.
In 2018, Secretary Carson prematurely suspended implementation of the 2015 AFFH rule based on only 49 initial Assessment of Fair Housing (AFH) submissions by local jurisdictions, 32 of which were ultimately accepted by HUD. Now HUD is proposing to scrap years of extensive input and intensive work that went into the 2015 rule and make the agency’s previous flawed and failed system even worse.
HUD should abandon this ill-conceived proposal, reinstitute the 2015 AFFH rule, and resume its implementation. As the housing crisis and its disproportionate harm to low-income people of color worsens, the racial wealth gap grows, and African American homeownership declines below levels when discrimination was legal, the promise and obligations of the Fair Housing Act are more important than ever. Rather than attempting to weaken it, Secretary Carson must work to vigorously enforce the obligation to further fair housing in our country.
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.