Fair Housing Task Force Condemns HUD’s Decision to Drop Anti-Discrimination Language
A March 5, 2018 U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) memo announced Secretary Ben Carson’s consideration of revising the agency’s mission statement and removing anti-discrimination language and promises of inclusive communities.
The modified mission statement reads: “HUD’s mission is to ensure Americans have access to fair, affordable housing and opportunities to achieve self-sufficiency, thereby strengthening our communities and nation.”
The draft statement removes previous references to creating “inclusive and sustainable communities free from discrimination.” The memo was circulated to senior political staff at HUD and sought input on the changes.
The National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC) joined other advocacy groups across the country in immediately objected to the proposed modifications.
The Fair Housing Task Force (FHTF), of which NLIHC is a member, submitted a letter to Dr. Carson signed by 573 organizations and individuals – 164 national organizations and 409 state or local groups and individuals – condemning HUD’s decision to drop the anti-discrimination language.
The letter states in part: “We urge you in the strongest possible terms to reverse course and retain language in your agency’s mission statement that reflects one of HUD’s most important responsibilities: enforcement and promotion of the Fair Housing Act. Many of our organizations worked diligently with HUD to ensure that this language would be included in HUD’s mission statement as a public acknowledgement that this part of HUD’s responsibilities is every bit as important as its role in providing resources for housing and community development.”
The letter highlights the fact that 2018 is the fiftieth anniversary of the Fair Housing Act. Members of the FHTF will seek a meeting with Secretary Carson to discuss their concerns.
“By removing the anti-discrimination language from HUD’s mission statement, Secretary Carson is sending a message to the country that he does not take discrimination in the housing market seriously,” said NLIHC President and CEO Diane Yentel. “Federal housing policy created the segregated communities that exist today – and federal, state and local governments have an obligation to reverse these trends by furthering fair housing. Thankfully, the law trumps a mission statement, so those legal obligations remain.”
The changes to the mission statement follow several other troubling decisions by Dr. Carson regarding fair housing, including HUD’s suspension of the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) rule earlier this year.
A HUD statement regarding their new mission promises that “HUD has been, is now, and will always be committed to ensuring inclusive housing, free from discrimination for all Americans.”
On a related note, NLIHC submitted comments regarding HUD effectively suspending without warning the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) rule on January 5, 2018. Even though the suspension was immediate, the Federal Register notice announcing it invited public comment.