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How a Fair Housing Amendment Moved Ahead

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development [1] (HUD) announced on Wednesday that it was moving forward on amending the Affirmatively Further Fair Housing (AFFH) regulations.

HUD said that a court ruling had dismissed a lawsuit against the agency related to the Department's decision to suspend the use of a computer tool to be used by local governments in meeting their fair housing obligations to ‘affirmatively further fair housing.’

In a 77-page ruling [2] dismissing the lawsuit, Chief Judge Beryl A. Howell of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia said ,"HUD acknowledges that the agency has not always administered programs in a manner to ensure that this long-standing statutory requirement affirmatively to further fair housing (“AFFH”) is met “as effective[ly] as had been envisioned.”

Last week, HUD had published a notice inviting the public's comments on amendments to its AFFH regulations. The notice said that the agency's goal in pursuing this new rulemaking was to offer more helpful guidance to states and local communities to effectively promote fair housing choice through the use of federal funds.

Specifically, the housing agency is seeking public comment on changes that will minimize regulatory burden; create a process focused on accomplishing positive results; provide for greater innovation and local control; encourage actions that increase housing choice.

“I am tremendously gratified that the Court agreed with HUD on all its legal arguments. My approach to regulations is that they should work in practice and not just in theory,” Secretary Ben Carson said in a message to employees on the ruling. “Whether it’s making sure our regulations work in the real world or challenging discrimination where we find it, HUD stands for fairness.”

Apart from the AFFH, HUD is also being asked to conform the disparate impact rule to the Supreme Court decision. In a recent letter to the agency, the Credit Union National Association [3] (CUNA) said that the agency should issue a proposed rule to make necessary changes to its 2013 disparate impact rule to conform to a 2015 U.S. Supreme Court ruling.

“We urge HUD to thoroughly scrutinize the specific requirements of the 2013 Disparate Impact Rule against the expansive language in Inclusive Communities to determine all changes necessary to bring parity between the rule and the ruling,” CUNA’s said in its letter. “Following that review, it is critical that HUD works with credit unions and other interested stakeholders through both the formal NPRM process and direct outreach to the financial services community.”