Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson said Monday that it is time to reform an Obama-era fair housing rule to build more housing and spend less time on red tape.
Carson said that the 2015 rule is “actually suffocating investment in some of our most distressed neighborhoods that need our investment the most,” according to the Washington Examiner.
“HUD believes very deeply in the purposes of the Fair Housing Act and that states, local governments and public housing authorities further fair housing choice,” Carson said in the HUD release.
“HUD’s 2015 rule often dictated unworkable requirements and actually impeded the development and rehabilitation of affordable housing,” Carson said.
“We do not have to abandon communities in need. Instead, we believe we can craft a new, fairer rule that creates choices for quality housing across all communities,” Carson said, according to The Hill.
“Today we begin the formal process of examining how we can get this regulation right by first listening and learning from those who must put these rules to work and live with its impact,” he said.
HUD said in the release that its goals in reforming the rule include reducing the burden of regulations seeking “to encourage actions that increase housing choice, including through greater housing supply …”
The Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule is part of the 1968 Fair Housing Act. It requires local governments to prove they are removing discriminatory features of their housing markets.
The revised rule changes HUD’s focus from withdrawing money from non-compliant communities to those that refuse to reduce regulations.
HUD’s action Monday begins a two-month comment period on its proposed rule change.
Carson had originally suspended the rule in January, prompting lawsuits from groups that opposed his action, according to The Washington Post.
Carson at that time told a Senate committee why the rule was a problem.
“As you probably know, that act says that we want people who are receiving HUD grants to look around and see if they find anything that looks like discrimination, and then we want them to come up with a solution on how to find the problem,” Carson, said, according to The Hill.
“They’re not responding to people saying there’s a problem, they’re saying go and look for a problem and give us a solution,” he said.
In May, HUD withdrew a computer assessment tool that was created for local communities to address their compliance with the Obama-era edict. The Washington Post reported that HUD labeled the tool “confusing, difficult to use, and frequently produced unacceptable assessments.”
“We believe in furthering fair housing choice in our neighborhoods, but we have to help, not hinder those who have to put our rules into practice,” said Anna Maria Farías, HUD’s assistant secretary for fair housing and equal opportunity. “We must make certain that our tools can facilitate the goals we all share — to build inclusive and sustainable communities free from discrimination.”
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