Oppose Anti-Fair Housing and Geospatial Data Amendments
Dear Member of Congress:
The undersigned organizations strongly urge you to oppose amendments to the T-HUD bill that would repeal HUD’s Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) regulation, require HUD to use its limited resources to duplicate previous consultations with state and local governments about how to fulfill their fair housing obligations, and block public access to government geo-spatial data. These anti-fair housing/anti-data amendments would undermine efforts to ensure that all communities in this country provide their residents with access to the opportunities they need to flourish.
The AFFH regulation, adopted by HUD in 2015, implements a provision of the Fair Housing Act adopted nearly 50 years ago. Despite being on the books for nearly half a century, until this rule was adopted, cities, counties and states that receive federal funds for housing and community development had little guidance about how to fulfill the fair housing obligations to which they agreed in exchange for receiving those funds, and few tools for doing so. The 2015 rule responds to requests from HUD grantees for greater guidance and more support in furthering fair housing, as well as recommendations made by the Government Accountability Office in a 2010 report based on its review of HUD’s fair housing oversight. The rule puts new tools in the hands of local governments to enable them to use their housing and community development resources more strategically to foster economic growth and access to opportunity for all their residents. It establishes a data-driven process, creates a robust process for public input and is flexible enough to accommodate local priorities and strategies. Eliminating this rule would leave communities once again wondering how to fulfill their fair housing obligations and how best to achieve their housing and community development goals.
Before developing the AFFH rule, HUD undertook an extensive consultation process. Public officials in cities, counties, states and public housing authorities across the country were asked for their input and the AFFH was piloted in 74 regions of various sizes and geographies. These processes helped HUD to understand what information, guidance and tools are needed to better understand and implement their fair housing obligations. The rule itself went through a public comment process, as have its accompanying tools. Despite this extensive consultation effort, these anti-fair housing amendments would require HUD to do this all over again. This is nothing more than a bald attempt to create a bureaucratic wild goose chase. In addition, since these amendments would prohibit HUD from adopting another AFFH rule, this provision would require HUD to use its limited resources on an effort that would yield nothing more than a report that would have no use and could have no impact except to undermine the thoughtful intent of the Fair Housing Act itself. We need HUD to be focused on addressing its core mission of creating housing, promoting strong communities, and eliminating housing discrimination.
Geospatial data collected and maintained by the federal government is a crucial underpinning of research, planning and policy-making in both the public and private sectors across a wide range of disciplines and economic sectors, including health, education, transportation, housing, employment and many others. Action by Congress to prevent the government from collecting, maintaining and providing the public with access to such data will set back important efforts in many fields. Such data are critical to a clear understanding of the challenges we face as a nation, efforts to develop strategies for addressing these many challenges, and a clear-eyed assessment of the advancements we may make. To ensure our progress as a nation, it is essential that we preserve important government data collection efforts, and equally important to preserve public access to the data collected.
Our organizations, representing a broad array of constituencies, strongly urge you to oppose any amendments to eliminate HUD’s AFFH rule, force HUD to engage in redundant consultation processes, or eliminate access to government geo-spatial data.
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