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HUD files proposed rule aimed at reducing housing segregation

The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has filed a proposal for a new rule to push local communities to take steps to address housing segregation. 

HUD said in a release that the rule, announced on Thursday, would require municipalities, states and public housing agencies to set goals for fair housing issues facing their communities, in accordance with the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing mandate of the 1968 Fair Housing Act. That provision of the law instructs the government to promote fair housing choices, end housing disparities and encourage inclusive communities. 

The Fair Housing Act was part of the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1968, but enforcement of the law has often varied based on jurisdiction. 

“This proposed rule is a major step towards fulfilling the law’s full promise and advancing our legal, ethical, and moral charge to provide equitable access to opportunity for all,” said HUD Secretary Marcia Fudge. 

The release states that the rule would require participants in HUD programs to submit an “equity plan” for the department to review every five years that will analyze fair housing issues facing their communities, a description of community engagement and goals and strategies to fix those problems in concrete ways. 

Participants include any jurisdiction that receives funding or assistance from the department. 

The plans need to be developed after “robust” engagement from the local community. 

Once their equity plans are accepted, the participants would need to include their goals and strategies in their planning documents like annual action plans and public housing agency plans. 

The rule would also require participants to submit annual progress evaluations to HUD to describe their status and any changes that need to be made to their plans. Members of the public would be allowed to submit complaints to HUD if a participant is not meeting its commitments. 

“Affirmatively furthering fair housing means more than merely steering clear of housing discrimination violations” said Demetria McCain, the principal deputy assistant secretary for fair housing and equal opportunity. “Today, HUD is taking new, bold action to eliminate the historic patterns of segregation that continue to harm American families.” 

The text of the proposed rule states that it is designed to simplify the process and provide greater flexibility in allowing more time to be spent on goal setting and providing more clarity and guidance for participants to promote fair housing, transparency and ability to revise their commitments as situations change. 

The proposal builds off of a 2015 rule from the Obama administration to get state and local governments to meet expectations in furthering fair housing. The Trump administration scrapped the rule in 2020.

The proposal will undergo a public comment period once it is published in the Federal Register.

Fudge said in an interview with CNN in August that minority home owners are losing wealth as a result of the appraisal process not giving them the true value of their homes, in violation of the Fair Housing Act.

Source: The Hill

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