One week ago, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) rolled back the 2015 Affirmatively Further Fair Housing (AFFH) mandate, which required that federal housing funds only be disbursed after jurisdictions used a data tool to identify existing patterns of housing discrimination and clear a 92-point checklist towards resolving them. Now the AIA has spoken out against the move, saying it will only further entrench discrimination across America.
The mandate, an update to the 1968 Fair Housing Act, hadn’t been enforced since 2018, but critics of the repeal claimed the Trump administration was attempting to pander to suburban voters and stir up racial animus ahead of the election, while proponents saw it as doing away with unnecessary and cumbersome zoning regulations. Then, yesterday, the president tweeted that “people living their Suburban Lifestyle Dream that you will no longer be bothered or financially hurt by having low income housing built in your neighborhood.” If that wasn’t clear enough, he followed it with “Your housing prices will go up based on the market, and crime will go down. I have rescinded the Obama-Biden AFFH Rule. Enjoy!” making the rationale for the rollback self-evident.
The AIA was swift to put out a rebuttal, arguing that the mandate was intended to help low-income residents and prevent racial discrimination. “AIA strongly opposes the Administration’s dismantling of this critical rule,” wrote AIA EVP/chief executive officer Robert Ivy, FAIA. “Our federal government should confront the legacy of discriminatory housing policies as intended in the Fair Housing Act of 1968, not shrink away from the responsibility of ensuring our communities are equitable. At such a critical moment in time for addressing racial inequity, it’s clear we need to do more, not less, to provide equitable opportunity to all Americans, especially for a basic human need such as shelter.”
The AFFH will be replaced with the “Preserving Community and Neighborhood Choice” rule, which will allow local governments to self-certify that they’re meeting fair housing obligations, sans enforcement. The replacement mandate is not subject to public review.