RALEIGH (January 9, 2020) – This week, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development released a notice of proposed rulemaking to substantially change its existing rule on “Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH),” an important civil rights regulation implementing the Fair Housing Act.
The NC Justice Center (NCJC) and Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy (CCLA), based on our initial review of the new draft rule, have substantial concerns and believe it will weaken enforcement of fair housing laws as well as the ability for residents to challenge housing discrimination and racial and ethnic segregation here in North Carolina.
HUD’s Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) mandate was designed to correct discriminatory housing practices as well as the lasting impacts of government and privately sponsored residential segregation. Under the prior AFFH rule, jurisdictions and Public Housing Authorities (PHAs) that receive federal funding must analyze patterns of segregation and discriminatory housing practices for families with children, people of color, people with disabilities and members of other protected classes. They are also required to take actions to address barriers to fair housing.
HUD’s proposed new rule is a step backwards in three specific areas:
- First, unlike the prior AFFH rule issued in 2015, HUD’s proposed new rule does not even mention the need to address the negative effects of historic patterns of segregation. Instead, it only focuses on income without consideration of all the other barriers to affordable housing.
- Second, HUD’s new rule will eliminate the community participation and engagement requirement that provides opportunities for members of local communities to have a say in the AFFH process.
- Third, the draft new rule will no longer require jurisdictions to determine what barriers to fair housing exist in their areas, instead merely allowing them to determine their own fair housing goals. Public housing authorities, which serve thousands of North Carolinians and can play a crucial role in either reinforcing segregation or promoting integration and improving life opportunities, will no longer have substantive obligations under this draft rule.
As currently written, the proposed rule will undermine state and local efforts in North Carolina to address systemic and unfair racial disparities in housing, as well as the persistent patterns of racial segregation that continue to create unfair and unjust life outcomes for people and communities of color in our state.