House Speaker Nancy Pelosi issued a scathing critique of the Trump administration’s decision to overturn an Obama-era fair-housing rule, noting it comes at a time when the nation is having a reckoning on racial issues.
“The Trump Administration’s elimination of the fair housing rule is a betrayal of our nation’s founding values of equality and opportunity for all,” Pelosi said. “It is a shameful abdication of our government’s responsibility to end discriminatory housing practices and to lift up our nation’s most vulnerable communities.”
On Thursday morning, Housing and Urban Development Ben Carson announced that, at President Donald Trump’s direction, he was overturning a 2015 rule requiring cities and towns that receive federal funding to examine local housing patterns for racial bias and address any measurable bias.
The five-year-old rule governed the implementation of the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing, or AFFH, provision of the 1968 Fair Housing Act passed by Congress and signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson.
While HUD can’t overturn the AFFH provision of the Fair Housing Act by tweet, or by other means short of having a new law passed, it’s changing a HUD rule about how the law will be implemented.
“Today, we are tearing down the Obama Administration’s Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which was an overreach of unelected Washington bureaucrats into local communities,” Carson said on Twitter.
HUD later said its rule will be replaced with a new rule called Preserving Community and Neighborhood Choice, which it says defines fair housing broadly to mean housing that, among other attributes, “is affordable, safe, decent, free of unlawful discrimination, and accessible under civil rights laws.”
The new rule gives people wider latitude, including the ability to self-certify.
“With the new rule, a grantee’s certification that it has affirmatively furthered fair housing would be deemed sufficient if it proposes to take any action above what is required by statute related to promoting any of the attributes of fair housing,” HUD said in a statement.
The efforts to change the AFFH rule began in January 2018 when HUD announced that it was delaying the deadline for local governments to submit their fair housing evaluations.
HUD efforts to change the AFFH rule were challenged in court by fair housing advocates, including the National Fair Housing Alliance, Texas Appleseed, and Texas Low Income Housing Information Service, which asked a judge to require HUD to enforce the AFFH rule as originally established.
But the judge overseeing the case eventually threw out the housing groups’ case, stating that they did not prove that they were harmed by HUD’s actions.
“Today, more than 50 years after the Fair Housing Act was enacted into law, we are still fighting to protect these critical civil rights and to eliminate once and for all our country’s legacies of redlining and racial segregation,” Pelosi said on Thursday.
In October 1973, five years after the Fair Housing Act was signed into law, the Department of Justice sued Trump and his father, Fred Trump, as well as their company, Trump Management, for violating Fair Housing provisions as they managed their apartments in the New York neighborhoods of Queens and Brooklyn.
Undercover federal investigators posing as rental applicants were told there were no vacancies if they were Black but were offered a choice of several apartments if they were white, the lawsuit said. Federal investigators also had evidence showing applications made by Black people were marked with codes such as “C” for “colored.”
The Trumps ultimately settled the suit without admission of guilt.