HUD Announces Rule Seeking to Rollback 2015 AFFH Rule and Radically Change the Definition of Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing.
“Today HUD announced a major step in its ongoing rollback of the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) Rule, a key civil rights regulation implementing the Fair Housing Act.
“Housing discrimination and segregation have a severe impact on life opportunity across generations. Under the AFFH statutory provision, the federal government and its grantees have a duty to address these problems and to advance the purposes of the Act: to take proactive steps to overcome patterns of housing segregation, promote true housing choice, and foster inclusive communities. For decades, the AFFH mandate largely languished as HUD took little enforcement action. After many years of work by fair housing advocates building on the foundation of the Civil Rights Movement, the Obama administration released the AFFH rule in 2015. That rule provided clarity and real teeth to the mandate and established a new robust framework for fair housing planning (the Assessment of Fair Housing) that yielded promising results during its early rollout. However, in 2018, the Trump administration abruptly suspended the implementation of the AFFH rule, reverting to a flawed discretionary process with little oversight other than self-certifications (the Analysis of Impediments) – a process that both HUD and the Government Accountability Office (GAO) found to be grossly ineffective.
“HUD has now gone even further, releasing a new draft rule, which reflects an ideology that ignores structural discrimination and its human cost, as well as our government’s statutory responsibility to address the ongoing legacies of intentional segregation. This proposed rule would dramatically change the regulatory definition of ‘AFFH’ to one that is untethered from the statute’s focus on residential segregation. Instead, HUD is seeking to use the rule as a platform for local deregulation: ostensibly doing so to make housing more affordable, but in fact, promoting strategies that will harm economically vulnerable people – such as removing rent regulations and environmental protections.
“HUD’s new rule would also eliminate the community participation and engagement requirement, which requires grantees to proactively seek input and inform their constituents about this process. Further, HUD’s new rule would also erase the requirement that its grantees complete a fair housing-focused analysis that would allow for adequate consideration of fair housing issues and review by independent advocacy groups or by HUD. Instead, it requires only a streamlined assertion of three action steps designated by the jurisdiction. Additionally, public housing authorities, which serve millions of Americans and play a crucial role in either reinforcing segregation or promoting integration and improving life opportunities, no longer have substantive obligations under this draft rule.”