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Capitol Correspondence - 01.06.20

Rule Scaling Back Housing Protections Imminent

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The Washington Post reports that a new rule by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) will be scaling back states’ fair housing obligations. ANCOR will be assessing this proposal once it is officially released given that people with disabilities, including those supported by our members, face greater challenges accessing affordable housing compared to their peers without disabilities.

As reported by the Washington Post:

“The Trump administration will propose a new rule as early as Monday that would reduce the burden on local governments to meet their fair housing obligations, further scaling back civil rights enforcement.

Among the changes sought by the Department of Housing and Urban Development: redefining what it means to promote fair housing, eliminating the assessment used to address barriers to racial integration, and encouraging cities to remove regulations that stand in the way of affordable housing, according to the proposed rule obtained by The Washington Post.

Fair housing advocates say the proposal reduces the financial pressure on local governments to end residential segregation, as required by the 1968 Fair Housing Act, and is the latest erosion of Obama-era regulations designed to enforce the landmark legislation.

The 2015 regulations required communities to take meaningful action against long-standing segregation by analyzing housing patterns, concentrated poverty and disparities in access to transportation, jobs and good schools.

HUD Secretary Ben Carson has characterized those steps as “overly burdensome” and “too prescriptive,” saying that transforming segregated living patterns and poor neighborhoods into areas of opportunity is often not within a community’s control.

The proposed rules focus on increasing what the administration is calling “fair housing choice” — through greater housing supply along with safe and sanitary housing conditions that HUD says will better allow families to live where they want — rather than racially integrating communities.

[…]

The housing agency also wants to rank communities based on housing costs and fair market rents, and give top performers priority for federal housing grants.

The administration says such incentives would bolster the availability of affordable housing. But [Thomas] Silverstein [of the Lawyer’s Committee for Civil Rights] said it would punish high-cost coastal cities with great housing needs — areas that are less supportive of Trump — and reward smaller, cheaper ones.

The proposed rules, to be published in the Federal Register ahead of a 60-day public comment period, come two years after Carson suspended the 2015 rule requiring more than 1,200 communities receiving federal housing dollars to draft plans to desegregate their communities — or risk losing billions in federal funds.”