Summary of House-Passed Anti-Fair Housing Amendments to FY 2016 Appropriations Bills
In June, the House of Representatives voted to pass its FY 2016 spending bills for the Department of Justice (Commerce, Justice, and Science Appropriations Bill) and HUD (Transportation and Housing and Urban Development Funding Bill). Both bills contain several amendments that would limit enforcement and implementation of the Fair Housing Act. The Senate has yet to take action on these bills.
House Amendment 391. This amendment, sponsored by Rep. Steve Stivers (R-OH), would decrease funding for the Private Enforcement Initiative (PEI) by $28.375 million and redirect the funds to the Administrative Enforcement Initiative in the Fair Housing Initiatives Program. PEI grants are the only federal funds available to nonprofit fair housing organizations to enforce the Fair Housing Act in their local housing markets. Using PEI FHIP funding they compete for annually, private fair housing groups investigate over 69 percent of all annually reported complaints of housing discrimination. Without PEI funds, cities and states will have little or no local fair housing enforcement.
House Amendment 399. This amendment, sponsored by Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ), prohibits the use of funds to carry out the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) rule published by HUD in the Federal Register on July 19, 2013. HUD’s rule provides a methodology and data to help local governments develop local solutions that address obstacles to opportunity for fair housing. Without HUD’s AFFH rule, local governments may be left with ineffective existing guidance on how to meet their fair housing obligations and many communities will continue to lack access to resources that help people succeed.
House Amendment 337. This amendment to the Commerce, Justice, and Science Appropriations Act, sponsored by Rep. Scott Garrett (R-NJ), would bar the Department of Justice from using funds for litigation in which it seeks to apply the disparate impact theory.
House Amendment 428. Also sponsored by Rep. Scott Garrett, this amendment to the Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development Appropriations Act would prohibit the use of government funds to implement, administer, or enforce HUD’s disparate impact regulation found at 24 CFR 100.500. In June, the Supreme Court ruled that disparate impact claims can be brought under the Fair Housing Act. HUD’s rule provides a unified standard for how to bring these complaints against unnecessary policies and practices that are facially “neutral” but have discriminatory consequences for people of color, people with disabilities, families with children, and other groups protected under the Fair Housing Act. Without HUD’s disparate impact rule, these kinds of claims will be increasingly difficult to bring for victims of discrimination, and housing providers will have less clarity about how to comply with the Fair Housing Act.