In the wake of the Trump administration moving to delay an Obama-era fair housing rule, prominent Democrats like former Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro and Rep. Maxine Waters, the ranking member of the House Committee on Financial Services, spoke out against the move.
And they’re not the only ones who don’t support the Trump administration’s decision to delay the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule.
Late last week, a group of 76 civil rights, housing, and community development organizations issued a joint statement, calling on HUD to allow the AFFH rule to move forward as originally stipulated.
The rule, which was announced in 2015, requires cities and towns that receive federal funding to examine their local housing patterns for racial bias and to design a plan to address any measurable bias.
But, last week, HUD announced that it was delaying the delaying the deadline for local governments to submit their fair housing evaluations by one year.
In a statement, the community groups say that the delaying the rule by one year is tantamount to repealing the rule altogether.
“Without warning, HUD has decided effectively to suspend the regulation, leaving local jurisdictions confused, giving local residents less voice in important decisions about their communities, and reinstating an approach to fair housing that the Government Accountability Office found to be ineffective and poorly administered,” the groups say.
The groups also call HUD’s decision “short-sighted” and ask HUD to reverse its decision.
“The administration’s abrupt decision to effectively suspend this critical regulation is misguided,” Diane Yentel, president and CEO of the National Low Income Housing Coalition, said.
“The federal government, states and local communities have been required by law since 1968 to work to undo the segregated communities that federal housing policy created in the first place,” Yentel continued. “Suspending the tools that help communities meet that obligation, without any input from key stakeholders, is a step in the wrong direction.”
The groups say that the Obama administration designed the AFFH rule with “considerable public input” but that the Trump administration did the opposite when delaying the rule.
HUD, in is announcement, disagreed with that assessment.
“Early in this administration, HUD embarked upon a top-to-bottom review of the department’s rules and regulations. As part of this regulatory review, HUD asked the public to offer comment on those rules that might be excessively burdensome or unclear,” HUD’s announcement stated.
“What we heard convinced us that the Assessment of Fair Housing tool for local governments wasn’t working well,” HUD continued. “In fact, more than a third of our early submitters failed to produce an acceptable assessment—not for lack of trying but because the tool designed to help them to succeed wasn’t helpful.”
The groups also suggest that impact of delaying the rule will be significant.
“The obligation of local governments to ‘affirmatively further fair housing’ is essential to fulfilling the promises of the Fair Housing Act, particularly this year, the 50th anniversary of this key civil rights law,” said Sherrilyn Ifill, president and director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund. “HUD’s proposed suspension would roll back one of the law’s most critical tools to correct structural inequality and racial segregation and represents yet another attack by this Administration on communities of color across the country.”
Shanna Smith, the president and CEO of the National Fair Housing Alliance, said that delaying the AFFH rule will only have negative effects.
“Americans strongly believe that a zip code should not determine a child’s future and that everyone – regardless of their race or national origin, the language they speak, or whether they have children or have a disability – should have access to the opportunities they need to succeed,” Smith said. “But we are falling short of achieving that goal. Actions taken over many years by HUD, other government agencies and the private sector have left us more segregated than we were 100 years ago. That has led to concentrated poverty and weaker communities and undermines our prosperity. We need HUD to enforce this important rule, not suspend it.”
The groups conclude by calling on HUD to reconsider and allow the AFFH rule to proceed.
“HUD’s announcement today is a serious loss for fair housing and puts the promise of making every neighborhood a community of opportunity further out of reach,” the groups say. “We call on HUD to reverse its decision, withdraw this notice, and move ahead with implementation and enforcement of this important fair housing rule. And we call on Congress to provide policy and budgetary oversight of HUD to ensure it is delivering on the promise of fair and equitable housing.”
The letter is signed by the following groups:
Action Center on Race and the Economy Institute
American Civil Liberties Union
Association of Programs for Rural Independent Living
Autism Society of America
Autistic Self Advocacy Network
California Reinvestment Coalition
Center for Popular Democracy
Center for Responsible Lending Center for Social Innovation
Center for the Study of Social Policy
Center on Budget and Policy Priorities
Coalition on Human Needs
Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities Housing Task Force
Consumer Federation of America
Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund
Enterprise Community Partners
Equal Justice Society
GLMA: Health Professionals Advancing LGBT Equality
Grounded Solutions Network
Housing Assistance Council
Japanese American Citizens League
Latino Justice PRLDEF
Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law
Local Initiatives Support Corporation
LOCUS: Responsible Real Estate Developers and Investors
Low Income Investment Fund
NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc.
National Alliance of Community Economic Development Associations
National Alliance on Mental Illness
National Asian Pacific American Women's Forum
National Association for Latino Community Asset Builders
National Association of Councils on Developmental Disabilities
National Association of Human Rights Workers
National Center for Lesbian Rights
National Center for Transgender Equality
National Coalition for Asian Pacific American Community Development
National Community Reinvestment Coalition
National Consumer Law Center (on behalf of its low-income clients)
National Council of Churches
National Disability Rights Network
National Education Association
National Equality Action Team
National Fair Housing Alliance
National Health Care for the Homeless Council
National Housing Law Project
National Housing Trust
National Juvenile Justice Network
National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty
National LGBTQ Task Force
National Low Income Housing Coalition
National Network to End Domestic Violence
National Urban League
Paralyzed Veterans of America
Poor Peoples Economic Human Rights Campaign
Poverty & Race Research Action Council
Pride at Work
Public Advocates Inc.
Smart Growth America
Technical Assistance Collaborative
The Arc of the United States
The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights
Transgender Law Center
Treatment Communities of America
UnidosUS (formerly National Council of La Raza)
United Way Worldwide