Ben Carson has proposed new changes to an Obama-era fair housing rule he suspended in January, NPR reports.
The Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) rule was issued in 2015. It tried to add teeth to the Fair Housing Act of 1968 and required municipalities receiving federal funds to more rigorously assess local segregation patterns — and come up with plans to correct them. Under Carson, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced at the start of 2018 that it would stop enforcing the rule until 2020, as Next City covered.
Now, Carson “wants the rule to focus more on reducing the regulatory burdens of local jurisdictions and on giving them more control, while encouraging actions that bolster housing choice and increase housing supply,” according to NPR.
The Obama-era rule “often dictated unworkable requirements,” Carson said in a statement, as reported by the station. He added that AFFH was “suffocating investment in some of our most distressed neighborhoods.”
The department’s announcement contains few details about how Carson plans to enforce the rule going forward, according to Slate. He’s framed the change as a free-market tool for beefing up overall housing production. But it’s no secret that he doesn’t like the Obama-era rule. He’s argued that it “amounts to an aggressive intrusion by the federal government into some of the most intimate decisions local citizens and communities make: about where to live, who lives next door and how to design their neighborhoods.”
In May, a group of housing advocates sued HUD for its January suspension. A complaint from the National Fair Housing Alliance, Texas Appleseed, and Texas Low Income Housing Information Service (Texas Housers) alleged that the suspension was unlawful because it was done without advanced notice or opportunity for public comment, Next City reported. It also accused the department of making the decision based on “sparse reasoning… [that] was arbitrary and capricious.”
Madison Sloan, the director of Disaster Recovery and Fair Housing with Texas Appleseed, hinted that the new tweaks were more of the same.
“This notice is part of HUD’s continuing attempt to gut the Fair Housing Act, allowing public money to fund discrimination and segregation in violation of the law,” Sloan said in a statement, as reported by NPR.
Rachel Dovey is an award-winning freelance writer and former USC Annenberg fellow living at the northern tip of California’s Bay Area. She writes about infrastructure, water and climate change and has been published by Bust, Wired, Paste, SF Weekly, the East Bay Express and the North Bay Bohemian.