Joint statement with the N.C. Justice Center
This week, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development released a notice of proposed rulemaking to substantially change its existing rule on “Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH),” an important civil rights regulation implementing the Fair Housing Act.
The NC Justice Center (NCJC) and Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy (CCLA), based on our initial review of the new draft rule, have substantial concerns and believe it will weaken enforcement of fair housing laws as well as the ability for residents to challenge housing discrimination and racial and ethnic segregation here in North Carolina.
HUD’s Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) mandate was designed to correct discriminatory housing practices as well as the lasting impacts of government and privately sponsored residential segregation. Under the prior AFFH rule, jurisdictions and Public Housing Authorities (PHAs) that receive federal funding must analyze patterns of segregation and discriminatory housing practices for families with children, people of color, people with disabilities and members of other protected classes. They are also required to take actions to address barriers to fair housing.
HUD’s proposed new rule is a step backwards in three specific areas:
- First, unlike the prior AFFH rule issued in 2015, HUD’s proposed new rule does not even mention the need to address the negative effects of historic patterns of segregation. Instead, it only focuses on income without consideration of all the other barriers to affordable housing.
- Second, HUD’s new rule will eliminate the community participation and engagement requirement that provides opportunities for members of local communities to have a say in the AFFH process.
- Third, the draft new rule will no longer require jurisdictions to determine what barriers to fair housing exist in their areas, instead merely allowing them to determine their own fair housing goals. Public housing authorities, which serve thousands of North Carolinians and can play a crucial role in either reinforcing segregation or promoting integration and improving life opportunities, will no longer have substantive obligations under this draft rule.
As currently written, the proposed rule will undermine state and local efforts in North Carolina to address systemic and unfair racial disparities in housing, as well as the persistent patterns of racial segregation that continue to create unfair and unjust life outcomes for people and communities of color in our state.
A note from Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy about this proposal:
U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Ben Carson was in Charlotte this week to announce a proposed rule change that would effectively roll back fair housing protections against discrimination and segregation.
His choice to make this announcement in Charlotte is an irony not lost on Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy. We work with local partners every day to address the systemic inequities that have contributed to the lack of economic mobility in our community as well as the affordable housing crisis.
In 2013, the Equality of Opportunity study ranked Charlotte last in upward mobility among the 50 largest cities in the U.S. Since then, our community has agreed that issues of access, equity and economic opportunity are systemic problems. We must address these problems to ensure ALL in our community have a fair shot at achieving their greatest potential, regardless of income, background, race or zip code.
This rule would permanently weaken enforcement of fair housing laws. Instead of ensuring fair access to housing that is affordable, safe and habitable, this rule would perpetuate the legacy of discrimination and segregation that has shaped the community we live in today.
This legacy is systemic. When the federal government chooses to ignore its role in that legacy, the opportunity to remedy past wrongs and adequately build a community that is equitable for all its residents is lost.
As an advocate for low-income and marginalized people, Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy believes our community deserves better. Join us in opposing this rule and help us protect fair access to housing.
What you can do
Use Your Voice
Submit your comment on this proposal during the 60-day public comment period. Tell the federal government that our community believes in access to housing for all people.
Share this message with your networks.
Encourage others to submit comments against this rule by March 16.