Civil Rights Leaders Respond to Trump Administration’s Latest Attack on Fair Housing, Legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr.

Proposal from HUD to Effectively Eliminate Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing Rule Weakens Enforcement of Fair Housing Laws, Reinforces Decades of Discriminatory Practices

Leaders of The National Fair Housing Alliance, Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, National Low Income Housing Coalition, National Housing Law Project, and Alliance for Housing Justice held a media conference call today to express opposition to the Trump administration’s latest attack against a critical Fair Housing Act tool for fighting housing discrimination. You can listen to a recording of the full press call here.

The proposed rule released by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) just days before Martin Luther King, Jr. Day would effectively eliminate the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) mandate under the Fair Housing Act. Congress passed the Fair Housing Act one week after the assassination of Dr. King in 1968 as an honorific to the civil rights leader who had fought for passage of the bill. It remains an important part of his legacy.

In response to HUD’s proposal, a coalition of advocacy groups launched, where those who oppose the rule and support the fight against housing discrimination can get more information and submit a comment to HUD.

These civil rights leaders released the following statements in response to the Trump Administration’s move to eliminate the AFFH rule:

Kristen Clarke, President and Executive Director, Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law

“The 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing Rule was a historic victory for the civil rights movement. Secretary Carson should do the right thing: withdraw this disastrous proposal and take steps to restart the implementation of the 2015 rule. Secretary Carson not only seeks to dismantle HUD’s system for providing oversight of its fair housing grantees, the proposed rule also doubles as a transparently ideological attack on equitable local policies that advance racial and economic justice. In no uncertain terms, we condemn this latest attempt by Secretary Carson to undermine fair housing efforts in our country.”

Lisa Rice, President and CEO, National Fair Housing Alliance

“This proposed rule is not a fair housing rule at all. It is a deregulation rule, cloaked in affordable housing language masquerading as a fair housing rule. This rule represents the antithesis of what fair housing is all about. It discards the anti-discrimination, equity and opportunity lenses that were key features of the 2015 regulation. It takes a free market approach to solving issues of inequality and segregation – a model that has never worked. It discards the requirement for jurisdictions and public housing authorities to complete a comprehensive analysis of barriers to fair housing and adopt plans to overcome them. It also does not give jurisdictions the directed guidance they requested to enable them to fulfill their fair housing obligations and will likely open them up to increased liability. The GAO issued a report admonishing HUD for not effectively enforcing the AFFH mandate. The 2015 rule addressed the GAO’s findings and incorporated its recommendations. This rule does neither. HUD must abandon this ill-fated effort and reinstate the 2015 regulation post haste.”

Diane Yentel, President and CEO, National Low Income Housing Coalition

“Secretary Carson’s proposal is a complete retreat from critical efforts to undo historic, government-driven patterns of housing discrimination and segregation throughout the U.S. This proposed rule underscores Secretary Carson’s fundamental misunderstanding or willful misreading of the Fair Housing Act and its obligations. His proposal would allow communities to ignore the essential racial desegregation obligations of fair housing law and is the latest of Secretary Carson’s attempts to weaken and disrupt HUD’s fair housing duties. Secretary Carson must abandon the ill-conceived proposal to gut the AFFH and instead work to vigorously enforce his obligation to further fair housing in our country.”

Shamus Roller, Executive Director, National Housing Law Project

“HUD has proposed a rule that advances the Trump Administration’s deregulation agenda under the guise of fair housing. Make no mistake:  this rule promotes neither fair housing nor affordable housing objectives. Instead, this proposal continues the Administration’s pattern of attacking civil rights and housing access. HUD’s proposal releases jurisdictions from having to examine whether they are perpetuating discrimination and segregation. Pretending our country’s legacy of housing discrimination does not exist is not a valid federal housing policy. Putting our heads in the sand will not suddenly create inclusive communities, nor will it address the enduring impacts of practices such as redlining and government-sanctioned segregation.”

Maria Zamudio, Associate Director, Housing Rights Committee of San Francisco with the Alliance for Housing Justice and Homes for All

“With these proposed changes to AFFH and HUDs fair housing policies, Trump and his administration are simply trying to remove regulations to allow his developer friends to profit off of discrimination, exploitation and displacement. We can see through these false solutions. Our communities are organizing to protect ourselves and are winning new protections to fight for real solutions to the housing crisis. Instead of gutting fair housing protections, HUD and the federal government should invest in renter protections like rent control and just cause eviction protections, full funding to rehabilitate and maintain public housing, and in millions of new units of social housing for all people that is safe, dignified and sustainable for our people and the planet.”