Industry leaders and agencies are reacting to the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) announcement that it intends to terminate the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing Regulation (AFFH).
And the decision has not been met favorably.
“The National Association of Realtors is disappointed that HUD has taken this step, which significantly weakens the federal government’s commitment to the goals of the Fair Housing Act,” said NAR President Vince Malta, Broker at Malta & Co., Inc., in San Francisco. “The viability of our 1.4 million members depends on the free, transparent, and efficient transfer of property in this country, and NAR maintains that a strong, affirmative fair housing rule is vital to advancing our nation’s progress toward thriving and inclusive communities. With the pandemic’s disproportionate impact on people of color reminding us of the costs of the failure to address barriers to housing opportunity, NAR remains committed to ensuring no American is unfairly denied this fundamental right in the future.”
Charmaine Brown, Sr. Consultant, Alignment Strategies, said this situation should have been handled as a “mend it, don’t end it” decision.
“If the Rule is considered inefficient, find ways to strengthen it. The human cost by this decision will be higher than the benefits of convenience and expediency,” Brown said.
Brown added that discriminatory practices continued to undermine the values of our country.
“It's especially disappointing that such a measure would be taken at a time when we're witnessing the devastating impact of systemic and structural disparities on under-resourced communities and families, who are struggling to keep their heads above water,” she said.
William Case, President and CEO, American Mortgage Service Co., said while it is likely that the rules under the Obama-era Administration’s regulation were overdone and “a bit cumbersome,” the rules remove too many protections that still necessary.
“We still have too many people that, left to their own narrow and ignorant views, will not always do the right thing,” he said.
HUD Secretary Dr. Benjamin Carson appeared on Fox News Friday morning to further discuss the decision to terminate the AFFH. Secretary Carson called the ruled “overly burdensome” and put the government in charge of how communities were built and operated.
“That is anti-federalism and that’s not how our system was built,” he said.
Secretary Carson further said that claims that the Trump Administration is racist is “not true.”
“When we came in, there were thousands upon thousands of backlogs of cases—Civil Rights cases, housing rights cases—we obliterated 22,933 cases since we’ve been in that were backlogged from before,” he said.
He added the administration has taken actions against numerous cities, signaling out Los Angeles, that were not accommodating disabled individuals.
“We’re very active … but we want to do things that make sense, not things that impose bureaucratic control over the people of the United States,” he said.
On Thursday, HUD said its new rule—Preserving Community and Neighborhood Choice—defines fair housing to mean housing is affordable, safe, decent, free of unlawful discrimination, and accessible under civil rights laws.
The rule defines “affirmatively furthering fair housing” as any action rationally related to promoting any of the above attributes of fair housing.
“Now, a grantee’s certification that it has affirmatively furthered fair housing would be deemed sufficient if it proposes to take any action above what is required by statute related to promoting any of the attributes of fair housing,” HUD states. “HUD remains able to terminate funding if it discovers, after the investigation made pursuant to a complaint or by its own volition, that a jurisdiction has not adhered to its commitment to AFFH.”