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HUD Wants to Require ‘Affordable Housing’ in Wealthy Neighborhoods


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Republicans hope to block a proposed federal regulation that would force localities to take additional steps to integrate segregated neighborhoods and bring affordable housing to wealthy areas.  If localities fail to take such actions, they would no longer be eligible for community development block grants and other housing related grants.

At issue is the “Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing” (AFFH) regulation, which was proposed by the Department of Housing and Urban Development in 2013.  The AFFH rule would require states and localities to integrate data on race, poverty, and access to education and employment into their planning decisions.  HUD would review whether localities are doing enough to ensure that their housing policies promote equal opportunity.

This week, the House voted 229-193 to block the regulation, which was in an amendment that was attached to legislation funding HUD.

The amendment’s sponsor, Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz., said the regulation “is one of the most far-reaching attempts yet to punish communities that don’t submit to the president’s liberal ideology.  American citizens and communities should be free to choose where they would like to live and not be subject to federal neighborhood engineering at the behest of an over-reaching federal government.”

“Furthermore, HUD officials shouldn’t be holding hostage grant monies aimed at community improvement based on its unrealistic utopian ideas of what every community should resemble,” Gosar said.  “Local zoning decisions have traditionally been , and should always be, made by local communities, no bureaucrats in Washington, D.C.”

The Senate would have to go along with this amendment in order to block the AFFH regulations, but at least one conservative commenter speculated the rule could become an issue in the 2016 presidential campaign.

“Because the Obama administration has delayed this political hot potato to the end of the president’s term, it is the next president who will actually determine whether AFFH is entrenched or cast aside,” wrote Stanley Kurtz, a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, in National Review.  “So if the Gosar amendment fails and Obama finalizes the rule, AFFH is almost certain to become a significant issue in the presidential campaign.”

Kurtz contends the rule “repudiates the core principles of our constitutional system by allowing the federal government to effectively usurp the zoning powers of local governments.  Over time, AFFH would transform the way Americans live, urbanizing suburbs and Manhattanizing cities.”

Fair housing advocates, however, said the rule would help low-income Americans and minorities who are now trapped in poverty-stricken neighborhoods.

“This rule is not about forcing anyone to live anywhere they don’t want to,” Margery Turner, senior vice president of the Urban Institute, told The Hill newspaper.  “It’s really about addressing long-standing practices that prevent people from living where they want to.  In our country, decades of public policies and institutional practices have built deeply segregated and unequal neighborhoods.”

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