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Attorney General Josh Stein Criticizes Federal Rollback of Fair Housing Policies

For Immediate Release:
Monday, March 16, 2020

(RALEIGH) Attorney General Josh Stein today criticized the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) proposed rule rolling back critical fair housing protections. Attorney General Stein joins a coalition of 22 attorneys general arguing that the proposed rule would gut the current Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) rule and does not provide meaningful oversight of local jurisdictions, fails to require these jurisdictions to confront urgent barriers to fair housing, appears designed to penalize urban areas, and would violate the Administrative Procedure Act.

“We need effective protections in place to reduce housing discrimination,” said Attorney General Josh Stein. “The federal government’s efforts to weaken these protections is a blow to our efforts to build strong, stable communities in North Carolina. That’s why I am opposing this proposal.”

Under the Fair Housing Act, HUD is required to take affirmative steps to further fair housing, including tackling the legacy of segregation and historic disparities in access to integrated housing. HUD’s 2015 AFFH rule created a process under which state and local jurisdictions are required to examine the barriers to fair housing specific to their communities and demonstrate how federal housing dollars will be used to promote balanced and integrated communities.

The Trump administration announced that it was suspending the AFFH rule in 2018 without adequate explanation. The administration’s proposed rule would backtrack on the AFFH rule’s critical efforts and remove mechanisms for accountability. The proposed rule’s amended definition of AFFH largely avoids mention of protected classes, segregation, or integration, calling into question HUD’s commitment to its statutory duty to promote integration and end racial segregation caused by discriminatory housing practices.

Moreover, the new processes for applying for funding rely on arbitrary metrics that may penalize jurisdictions that would otherwise likely stand to benefit the most from HUD assistance. HUD’s new proposal would not require any data or research to support jurisdictions’ proposed goals for the funding, and appears to incentivize program participants to focus on issues that are not related to fair housing.

Attorney General Stein has been a leader in fighting for protections against discriminatory housing and lending practices. In October 2019, he led a coalition of 22 attorneys general opposing HUD’s changes to the Disparate Impact Rule, which would make it harder to create equal housing opportunities for all Americans. He also urged HUD to uphold the 2015 AFFH rule in October 2018.

Attorney General Stein is joined in filing today’s comment letter by the Attorneys General of California, New York, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and District of Columbia.

More on Attorney General Josh Stein’s work to protect homeowners:

A copy of the comment letter is available here.

Contact:
Laura Brewer (919) 716-6484

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