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Fair Housing Rules Upended by Trump Administration

By Fletcher Word
Sojourner’s Truth Editor

With November’s presidential election just over three months away and the incumbent sinking in the polls, particularly among groups such as white suburbanites, Trump made a move last week to court that voting bloc and officially dismantled an Obama rule that had attempted to lessen the impact of decades of racial segregation in this nation’s neighborhoods.

HUD Secretary Ben Carson announced that his department is replacing the rule – the Affirmatively Furthuring Fair Housing (AFFH) – with one to lessen the standard for fair housing as access to an affordable and safe residence.

In a statement Carson said “We found it to be unworkable and ultimately a waste of time for localities to comply with, too often resulting in funds being steered away from communities that need them most.”

Carson’s move was not likely to have much practical immediate impact because HUD had already suspended enforcement of the AFFH rule in 2018, but it is clearly a tactic to appeal to conservative suburban voters.

Trump had laid the groundwork for the HUD announcement when he assailed former Vice President Joe Biden, likely Democratic nominee for president, for wanting to “abolish” the suburbs and bring “who knows who into your suburbs so your communities will be unsafe and your housing values will go down.”

The Obama rule had required local governments to make plans to correct housing discrimination in order to receive certain federal funds. The rule was implemented to address racial segregation that has persisted in spite of the enactment of the Fair Housing Act of 1968.

Home ownership is considered to be the bedrock of American family household wealth. According to statistics compiled by the Brookings Institute, the average net worth of the typical white American family is $171,000 compared to the average wealth of a Black family of $17,150. The difference is in home ownership rates and values and is the result of decades of government policy that began in 1934 during the New Deal when banks, in order to receive federal insurance to avoid failure, wear instructed to restrict lending to Black borrowers.

Under the AFFH, localities receiving federal assistance were required to take meaningful actions to undo decades of federal, state and local discriminatory policies that resulted in the creation of segregated, under-resourced communities. They must also ensure that neighborhoods have equal access to high quality schools, healthy food, clean air and water, reliable transportation, quality healthcare facilities and other community resources and amenities.

The Fair Housing Center reacted immediately with a statement condemning the relaxed provisions enacted by HUD.

Marie Flannery, president and CEO of The Fair Housing Center issued the following statement:

“For decades, redlining systematically blocked people of color from homeownership and contributed to disinvestment in racially diverse neighborhoods, the effect of which can still be seen today. We cannot create communities that are truly inclusive without recognizing and correcting the discriminatory practices that led to racially exclusive neighborhoods. It’s unconscionable that HUD – the entity charged with enforcing the Fair Housing Act – would allow communities to maintain policies that restrict equal access to housing.   


“HUD’s new rule gutting AFFH regulations amounts to government-sanctioned segregation. The Fair Housing Center joins fair housing and civil rights advocates across the country in condemning this policy change that will further perpetuate longstanding racial inequities.


“This decision is a devastating step backward in the civil rights movement and contradicts the basic principle that the American Dream should be accessible to all.”


Odette Williamson, staff attorney and director of the Racial Justice and Equal Economic Opportunity Project at the National Consumer Law Center said: “The Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing provision of the long-standing Fair Housing Act is needed to dismantle decades of government-sponsored discrimination that led to segregation and disinvestment in healthcare, housing, education and other essential services in Black communities and other communities of color. The disparate impact on highly segregated Black communities that were historically redlined still plays out today as Black families bore the brunt of early infections and death due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This unacceptable action is yet another attempt by the Trump administration to roll back hard-won civil rights protections that provide housing opportunities to people who have been excluded from highly resourced communities.”







Copyright © 2019 by [The Sojourner's Truth]. All rights reserved.
Revised: 07/30/20 11:07:48 -0400.

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