Biden administration revives fair housing program News
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Biden administration revives fair housing program

The US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Friday released a proposed fair housing rule which puts back in place many fair housing obligations that the Trump administration rescinded in 2020. 

The new rule revives many provisions of the 2015 Affirmatively Further Fair Housing (AFFH) Rule, passed during the Obama administration. The 2015 rule required program participants to submit an “equity plan” for review and acceptance to HUD every five years. It also required participants to identify fair housing issues in their communities and set goals to remedy them.

The Biden administration’s proposed rule is supposed to foster “greater transparency and public involvement” in its execution by making equity plans available for public feedback. HUD will provide technical assistance to communities under this program. The rule also aims to create public accountability by including a “complaint and compliance review process.”

The proposed rule fulfills an obligation in the 1968 Fair Housing Act, which forms part of the landmark 1968 Civil Rights Act, signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson. It prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, sex, religion, disability and other grounds in the provision of real estate and brokerage services.

Section 808 of the act mandates federal agencies to assist the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development in achieving the act’s objectives:

All executive departments and agencies shall administer their programs and activities relating to housing and urban development (including any Federal agency having regulatory or supervisory authority over financial institutions) in a manner affirmatively to further the purposes of this subchapter and shall cooperate with the Secretary to further such purposes.

Biden called the proposed rule an “important step forward to ensure every community does its part to expand equity in housing.” Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Marcia Fudge wrote in an op-ed for CNN that she was confident the program would affirmatively further fair housing.

The Trump administration rescinded the 2015 fair housing rule by passing the Preserving Community and Neighborhood Choice rule. The new rule alleged that the 2015 order violated state autonomy, repealing it in its entirety. It deemed AFFH certification to be “sufficient” if participants had taken steps to further fair housing in the relevant time period.

Trump controversially stated ahead of the 2020 presidential election that people living in suburban neighborhoods will no longer be “bothered or financially hurt by having low-income housing built” in their area. This remark was widely denounced as being “racist” by several commentators including the Associate Editor of The Washington Post, Eugene Robinson. President Biden issued a memorandum upon taking office that directed the secretary of housing and urban development to “examine” the effects of the Trump regulations.