Coalition Urges HUD To Maintain Critical Fair Housing Tool From Harlem To Hollywood

Seventy-six national civil rights, faith-based, affordable housing, and other organizations have voiced their strong opposition to the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s headed by Secretary Ben Carson sudden decision to effectively suspend the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) regulation.

Nearly 50 years ago, Congress adopted the Fair Housing Act, landmark legislation necessary to end discrimination in housing and eliminate the barriers created by segregation. The AFFH regulation — designed with considerable public input and piloted extensively — was adopted in 2015 and was a critical and long overdue step in carrying out Congress’ intent.

AFFH provided jurisdictions with a roadmap and tools for compliance and included measures for accountability. Without warning, HUD has effectively decided 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 issued the following statements:

Jennifer Bellamy, legislative counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union:

“Any state or locality that receives federal taxpayer funding has an obligation to protect fair housing, and the department of Housing and Urban Development has an obligation to holding those recipients of federal funding accountable to expanding opportunity for all. By eliminating this rule, HUD leaves communities in the dark about how to achieve their housing and development goals, without the tools and resources to eliminate discrimination.”

Angela Glover Blackwell, CEO of PolicyLink:

HUD’s effective suspension of the rule does nothing to help local governments fulfill their fair housing responsibilities to create equitable, healthy communities and provide access to housing without discrimination. It is the wrong move, particularly at a time when housing needs are so severe and housing and community development resources are so scarce. And by taking this step, HUD is abrogating its duty to carry out the mission Congress assigned it 50 years ago.”

Shanna L. Smith, president and CEO for the National Fair Housing Alliance:

“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. 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.”

Diane Yentel, president and CEO of the National Low Income Housing Coalition:

“The administration’s abrupt decision to effectively suspend this critical regulation is misguided. 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. Suspending the tools that help communities meet that obligation, without any input from key stakeholders, is a step in the wrong direction.”

Sherrilyn Ifill, president and director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc.

“The obligation of local governments to ‘affirmatively further fair housing’ is essential to fulfill the promises of the Fair Housing Act, particularly this year, the 50th Anniversary of this key civil rights law. 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.”

Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.

HUD’s decision to suspend a critical rule that has helped promote fair housing across the country is firm demonstration of Secretary Ben Carson’s hostility to fair enforcement and implementation of the Fair Housing Act. We will not stand by idly as HUD works to roll back the important gains that have been made to promote fair housing opportunities across the country.”

The groups said that 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. They called on HUD to reverse its decision, withdraw this notice, and move ahead with implementation and enforcement of this important fair housing rule. They also we called on Congress to provide policy and budgetary oversight of HUD to ensure it is delivering on the promise of fair and equitable housing.

This statement is issued on behalf of:

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
CarsonWatch
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 Action
Consumer Federation of America
Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund (DREDF)
Enterprise Community Parnters
Equal Justice Society
First Focus
FORGE, Inc.
GLMA: Health Professionals Advancing LGBT Equality
Grounded Solutions Network
Housing Assistance Council
Impact Fund
Japanese American Citizens League
Lambda Legal
LatinoJustice PRLDEF
Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law
Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC)
Local Progress
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 (NAPAWF)
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 (CAPACD)
National Community Reinvestment Coalition
National Consumer Law Center (on behalf of its low-income clients)
National Council of Churches
National Disabilty Rights Network
National Education Association
National Equality Action Team (NEAT)
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
PFLAG National
PolicyLink
Poor Peoples Economic Human Rights Campaign
Poverty & Race Research Action Council
Pride at Work
Prosperity Now
Public Advocates Inc.
Public Citizen
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

This statement can be found online here.

Photo of Secretary Dr. Ben Carson in Harlem. Article via source.

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