HUD Launches Administration’s Latest Attack on Civil Rights by Retreating on Fair Housing

Statement by Shamus Roller, Executive Director of the National Housing Law Project 

“Today the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has proposed a rule that advances the Trump Administration’s deregulation agenda under the guise of fair housing,” said Shamus Roller, executive director of the National Housing Law Project. “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,” Roller said. “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.”

Under the proposed rule, HUD also notably discounts the importance of public housing authority (PHA) policies. “Housing authorities have an enormous impact on fair housing opportunities within federal programs, such as public housing and the Section 8 Voucher program,” continued Roller. “Despite this, HUD’s proposal ignores the crucial role PHAs play in providing affordable housing to communities of color, persons with disabilities, and families with children, among other groups, nationally.”

In 2015, HUD issued a regulation that created a framework for jurisdictions and public housing authorities better to comply with the 1968 federal Fair Housing Act. The 2015 regulation requires these entities to complete a robust analysis of fair housing in their communities in order to receive HUD funds. Jurisdictions and housing authorities must identify the policies, practices, or conditions that shape disparities in access to housing and broader opportunities for communities of color, persons with disabilities, and other groups protected by the Fair Housing Act. These jurisdictions and housing authorities must also identify meaningful goals to address issues such as residential segregation and housing cost burden. The proposed 2020 rule dismantles this framework and replaces it with a proposal that reflects HUD’s intent to abandon its obligation to fulfill the Fair Housing Act’s promise.

HUD should withdraw its newly proposed rule and instead work to implement the 2015 finalized rule.