The Trump Administration’s final rule repealing the 2015 regulations implementing the statutory obligation to “affirmatively further fair housing” (AFFH) was published in the Federal Register on August 7. HUD Secretary Ben Carson announced the administration’s intent on July 23 (see Memo, 7/27). The final rule, effectively gutting the AFFH obligation, will take effect on September 8.
NLIHC and 14 other civil rights and housing organizations issued a media statement on July 23 condemning the administration’s action and the president’s use of incendiary racial rhetoric for political gain.
In its final form, the AFFH rule in essence is reduced to three lines, two of which are in a definition section. One defines “fair housing” to mean “housing that, among other attributes, is affordable, safe, decent, free of unlawful discrimination, and accessible as required under civil rights laws.” The other defines “to affirmatively further” to mean “to take any action rationally related to promoting any attribute or attributes of fair housing” (emphasis added). Theoretically, to “affirmatively further fair housing” a city could merely donate one abandoned building in a disinvested neighborhood to a developer to rehabilitate and rent to low-income households, some of whom might use Housing Choice Vouchers to make it affordable. States, local governments, and public housing agencies receiving HUD funds (“program participants”) must still certify that they are affirmatively furthering fair housing. The third line states that such a certification “is sufficient if the program participant takes any action that is rationally related to promoting one or more attributes of fair housing” (emphasis added).