NLIHC applauds the Biden-Harris administration for releasing a proposed “Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing” (AFFH) rule on January 19 to help communities meet our nation’s more than five-decade old requirement to actively address systemic racism and segregation, which have often resulted from specific federal policies. The proposed rule seeks to further improve a 2015 rule issued by the Obama administration that was suspended abruptly and replaced by the Trump administration in 2018.
“The 2015 AFFH regulation was an important step toward rectifying decades of racist housing policies that created today’s segregated neighborhoods and resulted in associated harm to children, families, and the country,” said NLIHC President and CEO Diane Yentel. “The updated proposed AFFH rule not only helps to undo the harmful efforts by the Trump administration to undermine fair housing, but it seeks to simplify the fair housing analysis process while holding communities accountable for addressing racial inequities and advancing equity. We look forward to closely reviewing the proposed rule and working with the administration on our collective efforts to advance racial and social equity.”
The “Fair Housing Act of 1968” not only makes it unlawful for jurisdictions to discriminate but also requires jurisdictions to take actions to undo historic patterns of segregation and other types of discrimination that resulted in the creation of racially segregated, under-resourced communities that have persisted to this day. The law likewise requires jurisdictions to take action to promote fair housing choice and to foster inclusive communities, ensuring that all neighborhoods have equitable access to high-quality schools, healthy food, clean air and water, reliable transportation, quality healthcare facilities, and other community resources and amenities.
Despite the statutory language, the federal government did not provide meaningful guidance until 2015 about how communities could meet the legal requirement to correct discriminatory housing practices and undo the harms caused by racial segregation, housing discrimination, and disinvestment. Under the Trump administration, HUD suspended the 2015 regulation and abruptly and without public review or comment published the “Preserving Neighborhood and Community Choice” rule. Shortly after taking office, the Biden administration published an Interim Final Rule to rescind the Trump mandate, announcing its intention to further improve the 2015 regulation.
“Housing justice and racial justice are inextricably linked,” said Yentel. “More than ever, large-scale, sustained investments and anti-racist reforms are necessary to ensure that people with the lowest incomes have quality homes that are accessible and affordable in communities of their choice. The administration’s action is an important step toward addressing structural racism and achieving greater racial equity and justice.”