Fair Housing Still Has a Chance Under Trump

Fair Housing Still Has a Chance Under Trump, Jake Blumgart, Slate, March 14, 2017, available here

The Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (or AFFH) rule, promulgated by President Barack Obama’s Department of Housing and Urban Development in 2015, marked the first forward momentum for the Fair Housing Act in decades. The rule required jurisdictions that receive federal housing funding to not only document barriers to integration and opportunity, but to detail—and prioritize—policies to eradicate them. It would be easy to write off the regulation, held until the end of Obama’s presidency, as a toothless change that merely instigated another round of bureaucratic paper-pushing. No additional funding accompanied the AFFH rule. Few fair-housing advocates believed that municipalities that didn’t pursue the rule in good faith would face any sort of punishment, no matter who won the 2016 election. Now that the presidency belongs to Donald Trump—a man whose own real estate career has earned federal scrutiny under the Fair Housing Act—the rule might appear to be not just flaccid but anathema to the new administration. Making that calculus even more severe is a secretary of housing and urban development, Ben Carson, whose only previous demonstrated interest in affordable-housing issues happened to be op-eds denouncing the AFFH rule as a doomed socialistic experiment.

But the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing Rule isn’t just a piece of paper, and it may not be destined for the waste bin. In fact, over its single year in effect, it’s already made housing a little bit fairer in some of America’s most segregated places.

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