NLIHC Joins Other Fair Housing Organizations in Urging Congress to Reject Proposals to Defund Fair Housing Enforcement; Rep. Barbara Lee Supports Fair Housing Funding

NLIHC, together with the National Fair Housing Alliance and local fair housing organizations, sent a letter urging leaders in the U.S. Senate’s Committee on Appropriations to reject legislative proposals (“riders”) that prohibit funding for implementation of the proposed “Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing” (AFFH) rule in fiscal year (FY) 2024 appropriations. Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives’ Committee on Appropriations’ Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (THUD) included language in their FY24 appropriations bill (see Memo 7/16) prohibiting HUD funds from being used to “implement, administer, or enforce” the proposed AFFH rule. In addition to action by advocates, Representative Barbara Lee (D-CA) proposed an amendment to remove from the House THUD bill the Republicans’ rider defunding AFFH in order to maintain funding for HUD’s enforcement of fair housing. Unfortunately, the amendment failed on a vote of 27-34. NLIHC’s letter was sent to Senate appropriations leaders in anticipation of the Senate’s hearing on the THUD appropriations bill, which occurred on July 20.

In February 2023, the proposed Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule was published in the Federal Register to much applause by national housing organizations and civil rights leaders. If finalized, the proposed rule would help communities meet a 55-year-old requirement to actively address systemic racism and segregation, which have often resulted from specific federal policies. The proposed rule would seek to improve a 2015 rule issued by the Obama administration that was suspended abruptly and replaced by the Trump administration in 2018. (For more on the proposed AFFH rule, see Memo 2/13.) NLIHC submitted a comment in April supporting the proposed rule and suggesting further improvements (see Memo 5/1).

By adding language to prohibit HUD funds from being used to “implement, administer, or enforce” the proposed AFFH rule, House Republicans used the FY24 appropriations process to defund the AFFH proposed rule. In response, Representative Barbara Lee (D-CA) offered an amendment to remove the language. In a press statement addressing the amendment, Representative Lee explained that “[t]he majority argues that fair housing rules ‘burden’ local governments. But I ask them – What about the burden on working families who cannot find a place to live because landlords think they look different? What about the burden on homeowners robbed of their hard-earned equity because of appraisal discrimination? What about the burden on disabled veterans and people who identify as LGBTQ+ who are denied fair housing? The Republican bill blocks all these people from getting a fair shake.”

While the amendment failed on a 27-34 vote, advocates will continue to voice strong support for fair housing enforcement and reject HUD spending cuts and instead voice their support for the highest possible funding for housing in the appropriations process.

Read the letter from NLIHC and fair housing advocates at:

More information about Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing is on page 8-12 of NLIHC’s 2023 Advocates’ Guide.

Read Representative Barbara Lee’s press statement on her amendment at: