In a joint letter on Monday addressed to Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson, the Council of Large Public Housing Authorities and its counsel Reno and Cavanaugh expressed opposition to the the actions of the Trump administration regarding the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, asking the organization to “withdraw its racist and illegal attempt to eliminate the rule.”
The 2015 Obama-era rule and provision of the 1968 Fair Housing Act was eliminated July 23 by HUD and the Trump administration. The rule originally required cities and towns that received federal funding to examine local housing patterns for racial bias and design a plan to address any measurable discrimination.
The CLPHA said they were deeply disturbed by an excerpt in a release from Carson that said after reviewing thousands of comments on the proposed changes to the rule, “we found it to be unworkable and ultimately a waste of time for localities to comply with.”
In the letter, CLPHA said it was the responsibility of HUD to administer the Fair Housing Act and further fair housing — stating the obligation to do so is an “integral tool to address historic discrimination” in the industry.
On Wednesday, the Center for Responsible Lending tweeted out a similar response, saying the administration was relinquishing its responsibility to dismantle segregation and the inequity it created.
“People should not be shut out of the American Dream based on the color of their skin,” the CRL said. “However, decades of redlining have cemented this injustice, perpetuated a massive racial wealth gap between Black and white families, and sustained the continued distribution of resources and opportunity based on race. The government helped create entrenched, pernicious residential segregation and has an obligation to undo it. HUD’s 2015 ‘Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing’ rule would have helped fulfill this obligation.”
The National Fair Housing Alliance tweeted out several reasons why the AFFH rule was necessary, including: “children who have access to fair housing do better in school, have higher graduation rates, are more likely to attend college and become more productive citizens,”and “housing discrimination entrenches racial inequality, makes communities less safe, and weakens the economy.”
Several other individuals and organizations had previously voiced disdain for the elimination of the rule, including the National Association of Realtors, the Mortgage Bankers Association, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
After its elimination, HUD unveiled a new rule called Preserving Community and Neighborhood Choice, which defines fair housing in a broader sense and gives communities and companies wider latitude for compliance, including the ability to self-certify.
In the letter from CLPHA, the organization called for the withdrawal and rescission of this “New AFFH rule,” stating it bears little resemblance to the previous rule and saying that HUD failed to uphold the legal requirement of notice-and-comment rule making.
“This apparent revelation by HUD that it has unlimited authority to waive regulations without regard to statutory or procedural requirements is highly dubious, at best, and defies decades of regulatory precedent. We do not believe it will stand for very long,” CLPHA said.
“In claiming unfettered regulatory power to undermine fair housing, the New AFFH Rule is a perfect storm of regressive social policy and a total disregard for the rule of law. Therefore, HUD must withdraw the New AFFH Rule.”