The House Committee on Oversight and Reform’s Civil Rights and Civil Liberties Subcommittee held a hearing on February 5, “A Threat to American’s Children: The Trump Administration’s Proposal to Gut Fair Housing Accountability.” The hearing focused on HUD’s proposed Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) rule as a part of a series of hearings examining how the Trump administration’s policies and proposals would negatively impact children. Most of the witnesses and Democratic members of the subcommittee stressed the importance of the previous administration’s 2015 AFFH rule and criticized the new proposed rule. Republican members, however, expressed support for the proposal, focusing their questions and remarks on housing supply instead of fair housing choice. NLIHC submitted a statement for the record expressing support for the 2015 rule and identifying the problems with HUD’s proposed rule.
In his opening remarks, Subcommittee Chair Jamie Raskin (D-MD) characterized HUD’s proposed AFFH rule as a “radical U-turn” from fulfilling the Fair Housing Act’s goal of housing desegregation, one that would further limit fair and affordable housing opportunities. “HUD is proposing to rubber-stamp housing plans without serious account and without any eye toward making fair housing a serious national priority,” Chair Raskin stated. Full Committee Chair Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) shared similar sentiments, stating that the proposed rule would protect special interests and increase discrimination and segregation. Other Democratic members of the committee also emphasized the need to address the racial inequities in housing while engaging impacted communities in the process.
Ranking Member Fred Keller’s (R-PA) remarks ignored fair housing. Instead, he expressed support for eliminating regulations in order to empower local communities to increase housing affordability. He called the 2015 AFFH rule “a burdensome paperwork exercise with no enforcement that would have done nothing to produce actual affordable housing.” Like the Trump administration’s proposed rule, Ranking Member Keller and other Republicans on the committee incorrectly equated affordable housing to fair housing choice. Witness Michael Hendrix, director of state and local policy at the Manhattan Institute, similarly praised the proposed rule, failing to recognize the role of federal, state, and local governments in creating racial segregation in America.
The four other witnesses highlighted the successes of the 2015 rule and emphasized the need to increase housing choice by addressing current, ongoing discrimination and disinvestment. Jorge Andres Soto, director of public policy at the National Fair Housing Alliance, discussed America’s long history of discriminatory housing policies and stated that the proposed rule was an “endorsement of segregation” that would “not satisfy the requirements of the [Fair Housing] Act.” Ellen Lee, director of community and economic development for the City of New Orleans, shared how the process created under the 2015 rule helped the city better understand various communities’ housing needs. She noted that it is “equally important that we invest in affordable housing as where we invest in affordable housing.”
Dr. Megan Sandel, principal investigator at Children’s Healthwatch/Boston Medical Center, discussed the link between positive health outcomes and access to stable, affordable homes in areas of opportunity. She noted that housing discrimination often prevents families with children from living in neighborhoods connected to opportunity, which research has clearly linked to improved health and educational outcomes. Ateira Griffin, CEO and founder of Building Our Nation’s Daughters, shared how discriminatory housing policies shaped her childhood and the lives of the children she works with in Baltimore.
NLIHC’s statement for the record is at: https://tinyurl.com/t34hg36
More about the hearing is at: https://tinyurl.com/wn46osp
Information about the 2015 AFFH rule, Secretary Carson’s suspension of the 2015 rule, and the AI process that jurisdictions must follow until a final rule is published is on pages 7-14, 7-21, and 7-26 of NLIHC’s 2019 Advocates’ Guide.