Civil Rights Groups Sue HUD for Suspending AFFH Rule
In January, HUD announced that the agency was suspending the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) Rule, which required communities to study and rectify policies and processes that stand in the way of racial integration. Passed in 2015 under the Obama administration, the rule aimed to improve the government’s enforcement of the 1968 Fair Housing Act (FHA), which bars housing discrimination.
Under the rule, local and state government entities that collect $5.5 billion in federal housing funds each year were tasked with creating Assessment of Fair Housing (AFH) plans to desegregate the communities they serve and retain their funding. It was developed during a six-year process after the United States Government Accountability Office determined in 2010 that the agency was falling down on the job of enforcing the FHA.
HUD Secretary Ben Carson previously equated the rule with what he called “failed socialist experiments” like “mandated busing” policies that were used to integrate American schools. The Trump administration’s move to suspend the rule means that grantees can continue to receive funding without fulfilling the requirements of the rule.
In response, the National Fair Housing Alliance, Texas Appleseed, and Texas Low Income Housing Information Service filed a lawsuit against HUD and Secretary Carson to force the agency to enforce the rule. The complaint alleges that HUD acted unlawfully when it suspended the requirement, and that the agency’s action effectively removed civil rights oversight from the grants process. The complaint states that HUD is “violating its statutory duty under the Fair Housing Act to ensure that federal funds are used to affirmatively further fair housing.” The three plaintiffs in the suit are represented by several organizations, including the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, the American Civil Liberties Union, and the Poverty & Race Research Action Council.