Everyone should have equitable access to housing and opportunity.
January 23, 2020
Everyone should have equitable access to housing and opportunity regardless of their race, gender, or disability – and be protected from housing discrimination, much of which comes in the form of systemic policies that have for decades ensured that a person’s life outcome be determined by their zip code.
The Fair Housing Act not only calls upon this country to root out housing discrimination but to actively identify those structures of racism that have maintained stubborn patterns of racial segregation and inequity throughout the country. And yet, its latest attempt to use the regulatory process to erode civil rights and move us even further away from the beloved community, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development turns its back on the very segregation that it is charged, not only to combat, but to actively dismantle.
On the eve of Dr. Martin Luther King’s birthday, HUD published a proposed rule that would redefine “affirmatively furthering fair housing” in a way that would promote, rather than dismantle, housing segregation. The rule is a blueprint for reinforcing the structural racism latent in housing and planning policies throughout the United States.
Under the Fair Housing Act, federal agencies and federal grantees must do more than simply refrain from discrimination; they must actively work to identify and overcome structural barriers, such as exclusionary zoning, that contribute to discrimination and segregation. In other words, they have a duty to “affirmatively further fair housing” – a duty that has existed since the passage of the Fair Housing Act in 1968.
In 2015, HUD attempted to breathe new life into this visionary statutory provision and issued a rule detailing the heart of this duty: a rigorous analysis, in collaboration with communities, of all the causes of segregation and community inequities as well as a thorough and thoughtful plan of action for addressing those causes.
HUD’s proposed rule abandons the 2015 rule and, in the name of deregulation, releases entities who receive federal housing and community development funds from any real accountability for policies and practices that foster housing segregation and inhibit fair housing access.
Working in partnership with national organizations and with its network partners, the Shriver Center strongly urges HUD to withdraw the proposed rule and reinstate and enforce the 2015 rule and return to our collective north star – our beloved community.