HUD has published a new final rule, Preserving Community and Neighborhood Choice, to replace the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) rule and the 1994 Analysis of Impediments (AI) requirements. The new rule terminates the 2015 AFFH rule and concludes that a HUD grantee’s AFFH certification “will be deemed acceptable if the grantee has taken some active steps to promote fair housing” without any meaningful guidance as to what those standards are or how they would be evaluated. Enterprise strongly opposes the new rule and the termination of the AFFH rule. Enterprise, National Housing Trust (NHT), Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), Low Income Investment Fund (LIIF), Stewards of Affordable Housing for the Future (SAHF), and Housing Partnership Network (HPN) released a joint statement opposing HUD’s termination of the 2015 AFFH rule.
Enterprise Senior Director for Public Policy Sarah Brundage notes that “the whole purpose of the [2015 AFFH] rule was to finally provide meaningful guidance for how communities should be advancing fair housing decades after the passage of the Fair Housing Act.” Brundage also points out that HUD’s new rule is a “big step backward for our federal government’s commitment toward progress” in addressing racial segregation in housing.
On July 29, AFFH gained increased attention after President Trump used Twitter to frame the termination of the AFFH rule as a relief for suburbs who were “bothered or financially hurt by having low income housing built in [their] neighborhood,” and made incorrect assertions that low-income housing lowers property values and increases neighborhood crime. Brundage addresses those debunked claims and how that narrative is founded in racism and poverty stereotyping in an Enterprise blog post titled “Correcting the Record on Fair Housing, Property Values, and Crime.”
The final rule met opposition from some lawmakers due to similar criticisms. On July 27, Chair of the House Financial Services Committee Maxine Waters (D-CA-43), Chair of the House Committee on the Judiciary Jerrold Nadler (D-NY-10), and Chair of the House Financial Services Committee’s Subcommittee on Housing, Community Development and Insurance William Lacy Clay, Jr. (D-MO-1) issued a joint statement criticizing the Trump Administration’s rollback of the AFFH rule during the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic and the associated housing crisis and declared that the lawmakers would “be taking legislative action to reinstate this critical rule.” On Friday, the House passed a Fiscal Year 2021 House Transportation-HUD (THUD) spending bill that included an amendment introduced by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY-14) that would rescind the new rule.