Kevin Stocklin, Epoch Times, August 18, 2023
Actions by the Biden administration to expand racial equity are making their way into America’s suburbs and towns.
The Department of Housing and Development (HUD) is implementing a new program that would compel any town, city, or county that accepts federal housing grants to “proactively take meaningful actions to overcome patterns of segregation, promote fair housing choice, eliminate disparities in opportunities, and foster inclusive communities free from discrimination.”
The program, called Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH), is a reinstatement of HUD’s 2015 AFFH Rule, originally introduced by the Obama administration but repealed in 2020 by the Trump administration, which criticized the policy’s “onerous burden on localities and federal overreach into local housing policy.”
Under the Biden policy, “in order to qualify for community development block grant funds, [communities] have to prepare and submit a plan to demonstrate that they are ‘affirmatively furthering fair housing,’” Howard Husock, senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and author of “The Poor Side of Town,” a critique of American housing policies, told The Epoch Times. “They will have to pass muster with regulators at HUD, who will review the steps they’re taking and decide whether they measure up.”
Among the things that HUD will look for, Mr. Husock said, is if low-income housing “is being built in ‘high-opportunity neighborhoods’; is it being built close to high-performing schools; is close to libraries or supermarkets; with public facilities being located in ways that best serve those of a low income.”
The 1968 Fair Housing Act was enacted following the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. It prohibited discrimination in the sale, rental, and financing of housing based on race, religion, national origin, sex, disability, or family status.
However, a clause in the Act that directs the government to “affirmatively further fair housing” has been used by the Biden to expand enforcement beyond the transaction of buying or renting a home, intending to compelling municipalities to create equity plans for diversifying communities.
The new rule will mandate that “local governments and other recipients of HUD funding set ambitious goals to not only confront and reject housing discrimination in all forms but recognize and remedy enduring inequality,” Ms. Fudge stated. “This rule will be vitally important to our work to address ongoing segregation, disinvestment from communities of color and discrimination in housing markets.”
This year, Congress provided $85 million to identify and remove barriers to affordable housing production in the 2023 Omnibus (Consolidated Appropriations) Act.
Much of the ire of those pushing for racial equity in housing is directed at local zoning laws, which mandate things like single-family homes over multi-family housing, or minimum lot sizes. In 2022, California banned single-family zoning throughout the state. The law, SB 9, permitted the construction of up to four units on lots that were previously limited to a single home.
An estimated 1,200 communities will be affected by the HUD’s AFFH policy. However, it is unlikely that many of America’s wealthiest communities, like Concord Massachusetts or Beverly Hills California, will be affected because America’s richest towns often do not take HUD money.