Under the fair housing rule, the Biden HUD intends to impose ‘equity plans’ from communities

To avoid violating fair housing laws, the Biden administration is attempting to require state and local governments to submit “equity plans” to the federal government.

The Department of Housing and Urban Development proposed a regulation on Thursday that would require local governments to submit civil rights plans and reports or risk losing access to federal funding, according to a report by The Washington Examiner.

“This proposed rule is a major step towards fulfilling the law’s full promise and advancing our legal, ethical, and moral charge to provide equitable access to opportunity for all,” said HUD Secretary Marcia Fudge.

The new criteria, which are part of the “Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing” rule, are justified as carrying out a component of the 1968 Fair Housing Act that obliged cities to “affirmatively further” fair housing in response to historical segregation.

A version of the rule was implemented during the Obama administration and later overturned by former President Donald Trump, who portrayed it as part of a war on suburbs during his reelection campaign in 2020.

Background

Trump’s attack on the regulation trumped previous efforts by his Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, Ben Carson, to change the rule to incentivize municipalities to lift zoning rules to increase housing supply rather than discourage segregation.

In June of last year, the Biden administration partially reinstated the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing regulation but withheld the section on compliance. That component of the measure is addressed in Thursday’s update.

What is different is that the mechanism for compliance, which was criticized in the Obama version of the regulation as being unduly burdensome for local governments, will now require local governments to submit an equality plan.

Every five years, housing authorities would be required to produce equity plans that include an “analysis of fair housing concerns affecting their communities, goals and methods to repair those issues in tangible ways, and a description of community engagement.”

These studies would then need to be incorporated into their planning documents.

Does not include clause

The revived rule, which would go into effect in a month, does not include a clause included in the 2015 version of the rule that required states and towns to go through a specific process to certify they were obeying the rule, a significant modification that removes the measure’s force. HUD stated that a separate rule on compliance would be issued in the future.

“Today, HUD is taking a critical step to affirm that a child’s future should never be limited by the ZIP code where they are born,” Fudge said in a statement according to the Examiner.

The 2015 rule was intended to carry out a part of the 1968 Equitable Housing Act that obliged cities to “affirmatively further” fair housing.

Republicans, on the other hand, claimed that it would usurp town and city zoning authority and harm the suburbs. Trump, in particular, used the rather obscure rule-making to accuse Democrats of fighting a suburban war.  “If the Left gains power, they will demolish the suburbs,”  he declared in his acceptance speech for the 2020 presidential nomination.