Act Now to Protect Fair Housing
April is Financial Capability Month, a time to reflect on the tools and resources that empower low- and moderate-income families to build stronger financial futures. A stable, affordable place to live is a linchpin of that future, so it's appropriate that April is also Fair Housing Month. This month marks the 49th anniversary of the enactment of the Fair Housing Act, giving us a chance to celebrate the progress we have made to fight housing discrimination over the past five decades and consider how we can create more equal opportunity in every community.
One of the most important things we have to do now, however, is to make sure that that progress isn't reversed. Unfortunately, two bills in Congress would do just that.
The Local Zoning Decision Protection Act of 2017—Rep. Gosar's H.R. 482 and Sen. Lee's identical S. 103—would repeal the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) rule, stripping away tools for communities to reverse housing segregation. The AFFH rule, finalized in 2015, gives communities guidance on how to fulfill their obligations to "affirmatively further fair housing," meaning that jurisdictions that receive HUD funding must not only prohibit housing discrimination but must also actively work to dismantle patterns of housing segregation in their communities.
The requirement to affirmatively further fair housing has been an explicit part of fair housing law for half a century, but until the AFFH rule was adopted, communities often lacked the tools and data needed to identify and counteract this segregation. Under the new rule, HUD has made available a database of geospatial information on racial disparities in access to affordable housing, and HUD grantees will use the database to analyze the housing landscape in their communities and set actionable fair housing goals.
There is still much work to be done to ensure that people of color have truly equal housing opportunity. Today, people of color are still less likely to own homes than Whites, homes in communities of color appreciate more slowly than those in similar White communities and Black families are far more likely to live in poor neighborhoods than White families. Also, disparities in homeownership are a major driver of the racial wealth divide.
The Local Zoning Decision Protection Act would deal a huge blow to fair housing protections. This bill would gut the AFFH rule, prohibit any similar rule from being promulgated in the future and forbid the use of federal funds for the geospatial database. There is also a concern that the language of the bill might get added as an amendment to an appropriations bill. We need your help to prevent this harmful effort from becoming law.
Here's what you can do:
- Tell your Representative and Senators to oppose the Local Zoning Decision Protection Act. Here's how:
Call 202.224.3121 and ask to be connected to your Representative's or Senators' offices. If you don't know who your Representative is, find out here. If you don't know who your Senators are, find out here.
Once you're connected, here's what to say:
My name is [your name] from [your city and state], and I'm calling to request that you oppose [H.R. 482, if calling your Representative, or S. 103, if calling your Senator], the Local Zoning Decision Protection Act. This bill would prevent communities from having access to the tools they need to end housing segregation, which would make it harder for households of color to access neighborhoods of opportunity. I also urge you to oppose including language from the Local Zoning Decision Protection Act to any appropriations bill. Please show your commitment to fair housing by opposing this harmful bill.
- Ask three friends or colleagues to call their Representatives and Senators, too.
- Share this action alert on social media throughout the month of April. Share on Twitter and Facebook.
Want to learn more about what you can do make homeownership more affordable for more Americans? Connect with Affordable Homeownership @ Prosperity Now!