HUD Backs Off on Rule It Says Stifles Affordability

August 15, 2018

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development is taking steps to scale back a fair housing rule that had sought to combat housing segregation. HUD Secretary Ben Carson says the 2015 rule is standing in the way of efforts to add more affordable housing.

U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Ben Carson

The Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule required cities and towns to examine historic patterns of segregation, and then create plans to combat them. Those who didn’t comply risked losing federal funding. "It's ironic that the current AFFH rule, which was designed to expand affordable housing choices, is actually suffocating investment in some of our most distressed neighborhoods that need our investment the most,” Carson said in a statement. "HUD's 2015 rule often dictated unworkable requirements and actually impeded the development and rehabilitation of affordable housing.

Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz. criticized the 2015 rule as a way to “extort communities into giving up control of local zoning decisions” and added that he looks "forward to seeing HUD completely rescind the utopian Obama regulation." Carson told The Wall Street Journal that he wants to spur development of mixed-income multifamily dwellings and make HUD money contingent on looser zoning rules instead.

But some critics are concerned about HUD’s efforts to rollback AFFH. “You’re going back to communities willfully blinding themselves to patterns of segregation,” Sara Pratt, a former President Obama official who helped develop the rule, told NBC News. “Without this rule, communities will not do the work to eliminate discrimination and segregation.” Pratt’s law firm is representing a coalition suing the Trump administration for the attempted rule suspension.

HUD offers a look at the proposed amendments to the AFFH at its website and will accept public comments through the Federal eRulemaking Portal.