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The Biden administration moved Thursday to restore a fair housing rule originally implemented during the Obama administration and then repealed under former President Donald Trump, who had criticized it as an assault on suburbia.
The Department of Housing and Urban Development published a final version of the rule, called Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing, which requires state and local governments that get HUD funding to demonstrate that they are working to address discrimination and segregation.
The reinstated rule, though, which would take effect in a month, does not include a provision included in the 2015 version of the rule that required states and cities to go through a specific process to demonstrate they were following the rule, a major change that takes the force out of the measure. HUD said it would follow up with a separate rule on compliance.
“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,” HUD Secretary Marcia Fudge said in a statement.
The 2015 rule was meant to implement a section of the 1968 Fair Housing Act that required that localities “affirmatively further” fair housing.
Republicans, though, had claimed that it would usurp the zoning power of towns and cities and endanger the suburbs. Trump, in particular, used the relatively obscure rule-making to attack Democrats as waging a war on suburbs. “If the Left gains power, they will demolish the suburbs,” he said in his 2020 nomination acceptance speech.
Fudge sought to counter that line of criticism in reinstating the rule. In a Washington Post op-ed published Thursday, she wrote that, rather than destroying suburbs, the rule would entail less intrusive changes, such as "developing more affordable housing by relaxing restrictive zoning codes that prevent all but the wealthiest from living in certain communities. It ... could entail bringing new services — such as affordable public transit — to neighborhoods that lack them.”
Trump HUD Secretary Ben Carson in 2018 had moved to overhaul the rule to encourage localities to loosen zoning restrictions to boost the housing supply, rather than to discourage segregation. In 2020, though, after Trump began directly criticizing the rule, HUD repealed it.
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Original Author: Joseph Lawler