On behalf of the National Fair Housing Alliance and the [XX] undersigned local, state, and national organizations, we call on you to stand with us to defend the existing federal programs and tools that protect Americans from housing discrimination. The Fair Housing Act is one of our nation’s most cherished laws and has, for nearly fifty years, been employed to ensure that every American has housing choices free from the harmful impacts of housing discrimination and the consequences of residential segregation. Appallingly, the mechanisms and programs in place to fully protect the fair housing rights of Americans have recently come under attack in the House of Representatives.
In June, the House of Representatives passed its Fiscal Year 2016 the Commerce, Justice, Science (CJS) Appropriations bill, H.R. 2578, and its Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (THUD) appropriations bill, H.R. 2577, with highly concerning anti-fair housing amendments attached that would all but eliminate local private fair housing enforcement, and undermine the federal government’s ability to protect Americans from housing discrimination.
Amendments to the THUD bill: zero-out grants for local private enforcement of the Fair Housing Act; prohibit HUD from implementing its recently released Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) rule, which gives local and state governments the data and tools they need to expand opportunity in every neighborhood and better comply with existing fair housing requirements; and prohibit HUD from enforcing its Discriminatory Effects rule, which provides a uniform standard for a widely-established legal doctrine that is used to challenge unjustified housing policies and practices that discriminate against groups protected by the Fair Housing Act. The CJS bill also included an amendment that prohibits the Department of Justice from taking any Fair Housing Act enforcement actions using HUD’s Discriminatory Effects rule.
These shameful and irresponsible amendments, individually and collectively, are an assault on the hard won civil rights of all Americans, and they send a clear message to housing providers and lenders that they can violate the law with impunity.
While our nation has made great progress in addressing the incidence of housing discrimination and residential segregation, we still have much left to accomplish. This year, the Supreme Court, in a seminal fair housing case decision, reinforced the continuing importance of the Fair Housing Act and urged the Nation to continue to work toward its greater purpose. In Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs v. The Inclusive Communities Project, Inc., Justice Kennedy authored the majority opinion, stating that: “Much progress remains to be made in our Nation’s continuing struggle against racial isolation….The Court acknowledges the Fair Housing Act’s continuing role in moving the nation toward a more integrated society.”
We stand united in opposition to any attempts to undermine the right of every American to access housing of their choice, in the neighborhood of their choice, free from discrimination. We urge you to stand with us for fair housing justice by vociferously supporting the mission of the Fair Housing Act and defending the tools and resources we all need to make it continue to work for Americans.
CC: United States House of Representatives
National Fair Housing Alliance