Com­pli­ance & Reg­u­la­tion

The Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion has ar­gued that the Af­fir­ma­tively Fur­ther­ing Fair Hous­ing rule, is­sued in 2015, was too pre­scrip­tive.

National Mortgage News - - Contents - By Han­nah Lang

HUD seeks to ease fair hous­ing rule’s bur­den on lo­cal gov­ern­ments

The Depart­ment of Hous­ing and Ur­ban De­vel­op­ment took its first step to­ward over­haul­ing a rule meant to guide lo­cal ju­ris­dic­tions in how they com­ply with the Fair Hous­ing Act.

To the dis­may of hous­ing ad­vo­cates, the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion in Jan­uary sus­pended the Af­fir­ma­tively Fur­ther­ing Fair Hous­ing rule, ar­gu­ing that it was too pre­scrip­tive. The rule, drafted by the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion, is meant to help lo­cales meet obli­ga­tions un­der the Fair Hous­ing Act to pro­vide af­ford­able hous­ing op­tions and avoid hous­ing dis­crim­i­na­tion.

In an ad­vance no­tice of pro­posed rule­mak­ing re­leased Aug. 13, the depart­ment sought com­ment on changes it says will re­duce reg­u­la­tory bur­den, pro­vide greater con­trol and in­crease the hous­ing sup­ply.

“HUD found that in con­trast to its stated goals, the AFFH rule proved in­ef­fec­tive, highly pre­scrip­tive, and ef­fec­tively dis­cour­aged the pro­duc­tion of af­ford­able hous­ing,” the depart­ment said in a press re­lease.

In May, the depart­ment also with­drew a com­puter as­sess­ment tool that lo­cal gov­ern­ments had used to file af­ford­able hous­ing plans un­der the 2015 rule.

“It’s ironic that the cur­rent AFFH rule, which was de­signed to ex­pand af­ford­able hous­ing choices, is ac­tu­ally suf­fo­cat­ing in­vest­ment in some of our most dis­tressed neigh­bor­hoods that need our in­vest­ment the most,” HUD Sec­re­tary Ben Car­son said in the press re­lease.

“We do not have to aban­don com­mu­ni­ties in need. In­stead we be­lieve we can craft a new, fairer rule that cre­ates choices for qual­ity hous­ing across all com­mu­ni­ties,” he said.

How­ever, hous­ing ad­vo­cates dis­agree and ar­gue that the rule was ef­fec­tive.

“This pro­posed ac­tion re­veals yet again that the cur­rent ad­min­is­tra­tion fails to un­der­stand its civil rights obli­ga­tions and the im­por­tance of the Fair Hous­ing Act for the com­mu­ni­ties it is sup­posed to serve,” said Me­gan Haberle, the deputy di­rec­tor of the Poverty & Race Re­search Ac­tion Coun­cil.

“Un­til sus­pended by HUD, the cur­rent rule was ben­e­fit­ing nu­mer­ous lo­cal­i­ties by help­ing them con­struct mean­ing­ful fair hous­ing goals, ad­dress dis­crim­i­na­tion, and broaden hous­ing choice in ways that made sense for each com­mu­nity.”

Morgan Wil­liams, the gen­eral coun­sel for the Na­tional Fair Hous­ing Al­liance, said the sus­pen­sion of the rule was un­fair yet the group is will­ing to work with HUD to en­sure that any changes “guar­an­tee mean­ing­ful out­comes.”

“Any re­con­sid­er­a­tion of the rule must ac­count for the fact that HUD has a track record of more than 40 years of fail­ing to prop­erly en­sure com­pli­ance with its af­fir­ma­tively fur­ther­ing fair hous­ing man­date,” she said.

“While the rule­mak­ing process is un­der­way, HUD should con­tinue to vig­or­ously en­force the cur­rent rule, which went through ex­ten­sive pi­lot­ing and pub­lic com­ment and is de­signed to pro­duce real re­sults.”

Ad­vo­cacy groups in­clud­ing the Poverty & Race Re­search Ac­tion Coun­cil, the Na­tional Fair Hous­ing Al­liance, the Amer­i­can Civil Lib­er­ties Union and the NAACP filed a law­suit against the depart­ment in May, assert­ing that the sus­pen­sion of the rule was un­law­ful. HUD and Car­son had filed a mo­tion to dis­miss the case, but a judge for the U. S. District Court of the District of Columbia heard oral ar­gu­ments in the case in July.

The pub­lic can com­ment on the pro­posed reg­u­la­tions for 60 days af­ter the pro­posal is pub­lished in the Fed­eral Regis­ter. HUD will also be look­ing at com­ments sub­mit­ted in re­sponse to the sus­pen­sion of the lo­cal govern­ment as­sess­ment tool in its con­sid­er­a­tion of po­ten­tial changes, the depart­ment said.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.