The federal government continues to reach far beyond its constitutional parameters by proposing regulations to increase diversity in wealthy neighborhoods. Officials at the Department of Housing and Urban Development argue that a new rule entitled “Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing” would simply clarify obligations under the Fair Housing Act of 1968, but critics view it as another example of federal overreach.
The Hill reports, “The regulations would use grant money as an incentive for communities to build affordable housing in more affluent areas while also taking steps to upgrade poorer areas with better schools, parks, libraries, grocery stores and transportation routes as part of a gentrification of those communities.”
According to HUD’s Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing, the proposed rule is to ensure that public housing agencies, as well as local governments and states receiving Community Development Block Grants, HOME Investment Partnerships, Emergency Solutions Grants, and Housing Opportunities for Persons With AIDS are properly adhering to the Fair Housing Act. In order to do so, the proposal entails the completion of an assessment of fair housing (AFH). Program participants would then be required to incorporate the findings from the AFH into subsequent housing plans: the Consolidated Plan, which would “describe how the priorities and specific objectives of the jurisdiction would further fair housing,” and the Action Plan, which specifies “actions to be taken during the next year that address fair housing issues identified in the AFH.” The proposal identifies four goals of the AFH:
The AFH focuses program participants’ analysis on four primary goals: improving integrated living patterns and overcoming historic patterns of segregation; reducing racial and ethnic concentrations of poverty; reducing disparities by race, color, religion, sex, familial status, national origin, or disability in access to community assets such as education, transit access, and employment, as well as exposure to environmental health hazards and other stressors that harm a person’s quality of life; and responding to disproportionate housing needs by protected class. HUD would provide all program participants with nationally uniform data on these four areas of focus as well as outstanding discrimination findings. Once program participants have analyzed the HUD data, as well as local or regional information they choose to add, they would identify the primary determinants influencing fair housing conditions, prioritize addressing these conditions, and set one or more goals for mitigating or addressing their determinants.