The Department of Housing and Urban Development Delays the Duty to Affirmatively Further Fair Housing

Today, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) suspended the statutory responsibility of local governments to actively find ways to reduce housing segregation in their communities for at least the next three years. This is referred to as the duty to affirmatively further fair housing (AFFH), and is required by the Fair Housing Act.

In the summer of 2015, HUD adopted a rule that made it easier for municipalities to satisfy this obligation by explaining in more concrete terms specifically how to comply with AFFH. The process includes putting together an Assessment of Fair Housing (AFH), where communities look closely at the housing landscape in their neighborhoods and pinpoint where segregation exists and to what extent, as well as analyzing the barriers to housing access that work against greater inclusivity.

HUD’s action today delays the submission of these assessments until October of 2020. Ben Carson, the current head of HUD, described AFFH dismissively as “social engineering,” so this postponement—though not welcome—is not completely unexpected.

The Fair Housing Act was passed almost 50 years ago, and the 2015 rule is the first time HUD promulgated rules that help communities forge a path toward greater equity by providing clarity and guidance on how to affirmatively further fair housing. This move by HUD today just kicks the can further down the road, making racial segregation—and the negative consequences that come from this inequity—a problem to address in the future rather than now, which is a step in the wrong direction.

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