Posted On March 7, 2018
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development is rolling back enforcement for a key rule intended to curb segregation. The move has unnerved fair housing advocates who see it as evidence that the Trump administration has abandoned efforts to combat segregation.
The Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, established by HUD in 2015, was intended to push forward an unfulfilled mandate of the Fair Housing Act of 1968. That law forbids racial discrimination in housing and requires local governments to actively work to desegregate their communities. The AFFH rule directed communities receiving block-grant funding from HUD to complete a comprehensive assessment of fair housing.
Writing in The Hill, Cody Montag cites a recent example of HUD failing to uphold desegregation enforcement with housing vouchers. The voucher program gave people access to rent homes across a wider range of zip codes. HUD tried to delay this program without correct protocol but was met with a lawsuit by the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund Inc., among others. HUD must recognize that any action moving forward will be under the watchful eye of the NAACP, including the AFFH rule.
If segregation persists in housing, it will remain in other areas as well. Housing is intrinsically connected with decent jobs, good schools, reliable transportation, safe streets, clean water, etc. HUD’s recent activity brings to mind old practices of government-sanctioned redlining and restrictive covenants. HUD’s willingness to impede progress will have a long-term effect on communities, and if continued will diminish the FHA’s ability to curtail segregation in housing.