Submit a Comment to Oppose the Latest Trump Administration Attack on Fair Housing
The Trump administration’s dangerous fair housing proposal will gut decades of advancements made to address segregation and discrimination and to promote racial equity and housing justice. This proposal will remove critical levers to hold our local governments and public housing authorities accountable to their fair housing obligations and will harm the communities we serve.
With this proposal, the federal government—specifically the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)—is retreating from its legal obligations to enforce and promote fair housing and protect our communities from discrimination based on race, color, national origin, sex, familial status, disability, or religion.
Your voice is needed to fight back!
Comments are due by March 16, 2020.
Your comment will be directly submitted to regulations.gov.
Additional background resources are available from our national partners coordinating the Fight for Housing Justice campaign.
Please personalize your comments. Below are brief talking points you can incorporate into your submission.
Preserving Fair Housing Principles
Despite the requirements of the 1968 Fair Housing Act, discriminatory public policies continue to perpetuate segregation and inequities, leaving many communities without adequate access to jobs, education, transit, and other life opportunities.
The proposed rule abandons the ambitions of the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which was the result of more than 6 years of deliberation by HUD, with significant input from an array of stakeholders. The 2015 rule provided clear standards, tools, and strategies to aid jurisdictions in analyzing and addressing their unique obstacles to fair housing.
The proposed rule is a complete reversal of this work, serving only to reprioritize the deregulation of housing development while removing important methods to hold jurisdictions accountable.
Promoting Racial Equity
The 1968 Fair Housing Act was a direct response to the racial upheaval of the time and the murder of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The mandate to Affirmatively Further Fair Housing within the Fair Housing Act was a declaration that public policy created the conditions underlying social unrest, and that all levels of government have a responsibility to repair past harms caused by racist public policies.
The proposed rule would invalidate decades of housing and racial justice work. Because the proposed rule removes levers to hold local jurisdictions accountable, and removes requirements for public housing authorities entirely, the obligation to remedy historic wrongs is effectively removed. This will leave our communities, particularly Black and Brown communities, susceptible to the systemic forces that create grave inequities based on race and national origin.
Enforcing Disability Rights
The disability community has long suffered unjust and immutable segregation and inequities in life outcomes. Because of a historic lack of attention to the fair housing issues faced by people with disabilities, tremendous barriers to independence remain, including an acute shortage of affordable and accessible housing across the country. The proposed rule eliminates the requirement for jurisdictions to perform an analysis of the fair housing barriers in their communities and identify ways to overcome them, thus ensuring that people with disabilities will continue to be segregated.
Increasing Affordable Housing
The proposed rule removes the requirements to address racial segregation and systemic discrimination based on an evaluation of historical practices and policies in a community. Instead, it incentivizes local governments to increase the supply of housing. This is based on an incorrect assumption that increasing the supply of housing—regardless of affordability—promotes fair housing choice. It does not.
The shortage of rental housing in Illinois is more significant among Black households. In 2016, 36.7% of Black households were severely cost burdened, paying more than 50% of their income for housing. By contrast, 21.9% of White households were severely cost burdened.
Increasing the supply of housing will not result in a significant amount of housing that is affordable to low-income people and will do nothing to reduce or eliminate discriminatory policies and practices that have resulted in racial segregation.
Creating Transportation Equity
As a result of discriminatory housing practices, American cities and suburbs developed unevenly, leaving some localities with much better transportation infrastructure than others. Rather than confronting this history, the proposed HUD rule allows these patterns to continue. The most alarming element of the proposed rule change is its explicit statement that municipalities with restrictive or discriminatory zoning laws will not face any consequences, when some of the most pernicious instances of government-sanctioned segregation have been carried out through exclusionary zoning.
While zoning has historically been used to create car-centric development and concentrate resources in select areas, zoning is also one of the best tools available to increase transit access. The proposed rule misses the opportunity to encourage zoning changes that increase housing adjacent to existing transit services and to create the potential for new services in growing localities.
Valuing Community Participation and Diverse Voices
Prior to implementation of the 2015 rule, local governments had insufficient guidance and enforcement from the federal government to meaningfully address systemic discrimination and segregation. The 2015 rule was an investment in our nation’s commitment to Civil Rights. It has led to positive initiatives, such as the Cook County Regional Assessment of Fair Housing—a collaborative model that is bringing together 19 participating jurisdictions and public housing authorities in Cook County.
The regional assessment is undertaking a robust community engagement process, ensuring that those who are most impacted by housing and community development decision-making have a voice in the process. HUD’s current proposed rule would gut these advancements, remove critical levers to hold our local governments and public housing authorities accountable to their fair housing obligations, and harm the communities we serve.
Promoting Health Equity
Racial and ethnic health inequalities are in large part produced by residential segregation. For example, in the Chicago area and elsewhere, racial and ethnic disparities persist in high infant mortality and low birth weight—outcomes associated with poor socioeconomic status and lack of access to prenatal care.
Moreover, a 2016 paper by researchers at Harvard, which analyzed over one million blood tests administered to Chicago children from 1995-2013, found that exposure to lead has been a major environmental pathway through which racial segregation has contributed to a legacy of inequitable life disadvantages for a highly disproportionate number of Black Americans.
A critical element of fair housing choice is access to safe and healthy housing. As the proposed rule eliminates the requirement to address residential segregation, it is a major step backwards in terms of promoting health equity. HUD has a duty to ensure that everyone has a fair and just opportunity to be as healthy as possible and to remove obstacles to health, such as poverty and discrimination.
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