The NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) enthusiastically welcomes today’s announcement by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) of the issuance of a final “affirmatively furthering fair housing” regulation. This new rule will provide communities with much needed assistance in identifying steps and taking action to promote racial integration and expand access to opportunity.
The rule seeks to clarify the obligations of public housing programs and federal housing fund grantees to address persistent racial segregation in their own communities. Passed in the wake of Dr. Martin Luther King’s assassination in 1968, the Fair Housing Act not only prohibited discrimination but included a provision requiring HUD programs and activities to be administered in a manner that affirmatively furthers the goals of the Fair Housing Act. In imposing this affirmative obligation on federal fund recipients, Congress was keenly aware of the federal government’s longstanding and pervasive role in perpetuating residential segregation, through practices such as racially restrictive covenants, redlining and exclusionary zoning.
Although a powerful and necessary tool to redress structural inequality, this affirmative obligation under the Fair Housing Act has been largely unenforced. The rule issued today seeks to clarify the existing mandate and provide the tools—through data, analysis and guidance—for communities to identify and address barriers to fair housing and to ensure more equitable access to opportunity.
In 2013, HUD issued a proposed rule to clarify state and local governments’ affirmative fair housing obligations. LDF submitted comments on the proposed rule, urging the adoption of strong enforcement mechanisms and measurable performance standards. In 2014, HUD issued a proposed Assessment Tool, which revised and strengthened the evaluations jurisdictions must conduct to comply with their affirmative obligations under the Fair Housing Act. LDF submitted comments on the Assessment Tool. The new rule is the final version.
Sherrilyn Ifill, LDF’s President and Director-Counsel, stated: “Police violence against communities of color has focused the nation’s attention on the depth of structural inequalities at the local level, resulting largely from decades of federal policy perpetuating segregation. HUD’s rule could not come at a more critical time. The affirmative obligation imposed by the Fair Housing Act on local governments is perhaps the strongest tool we have to counter entrenched patterns of residential segregation that limit access to opportunity. Housing is the linchpin to quality schools, good jobs, accessible transportation and safe neighborhoods. This rule is a much needed jump-start for localities to address the myriad forces that restrict access to opportunity and to build more inclusive communities where everyone may thrive.”
Leslie Proll, Director of LDF’s Washington DC office stated: “This is a new day for fighting segregation at the local level. We have urged HUD for years to give meaning to this critical enforcement tool. Communities must now use data to analyze local obstacles to fair housing and develop plans for redressing persistent segregation once and for all. We look forward to ensuring that the rule lives up to its promise.”
The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) is not a part of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) although LDF was founded by the NAACP and shares its commitment to equal rights. Since 1957, LDF has been a completely separate organization. Please refer to us in media attributions as the “NAACP Legal Defense Fund” or “LDF”.