HUD Secretary Ben Carson testified before the House Committee on Financial Services during a hearing to examine the agency and its level of success in implementing and overseeing federal housing policy. Much of the hearing was spent discussing the Administration’s proposed funding cuts to the agency and Secretary Carson’s proposals to increase rents and impose work requirements on recipients of HUD funding. Members of the committee questioned Secretary Carson about why he was committed to pursuing these proposals, noting that nearly 470,000 people with extremely low incomes would be affected by them and that there is a broader affordable housing crisis nationwide. Other topics of discussion included HUD’s efforts to remediate mold and lead-based paint hazards in federally-assisted housing, modernizing the Federal Housing Administration’s (FHA) outdated technology, Secretary Carson’s plans to release a final rule easing certain restrictions on using FHA insurance, and the need for comprehensive housing disaster recovery efforts.
Lawmakers also expressed concerns over Secretary Carson’s efforts to limit fair housing protections, most notably the agency’s decision to suspend key elements of the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) rule. Ranking Member Maxine Waters (D-CA-43) recently introduced a bill to combat these efforts, the Restoring Fair Housing Protections Eliminated by HUD Act (H.R. 6220). The bill would reinstate the Local Government Assessment Tool, which assists jurisdictions with complying with the AFFH Rule but which HUD suspended earlier this year; require HUD to codify language referring to “inclusive and sustainable communities free from discrimination” in HUD’s mission statement; and would reissue a Federal Register notice regarding a proposal to require owners and operators of HUD-funded homeless shelters to inform individuals of their rights under HUD’s “Equal Access in Accordance with an Individual’s Gender Identity in Community Planning and Development Programs” rule.