WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law (Lawyers’ Committee) applauds today’s release of the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development’s (HUD) final “Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing” regulation. The duty to affirmatively further fair housing is an important provision of the 1968 Fair Housing Act designed to promote the primary goal of the Act – residential integration and all of the opportunities such integration brings to communities. The regulation provides clear guidance to recipients of federal housing funds on their responsibility under this provision of the Act to promote residential integration. The Lawyers’ Committee expects that the regulation will result in higher quality fair housing planning and concrete action to foster inclusive communities and access to opportunity. Implementation of the duty to affirmatively further fair housing has long been a high priority for the Lawyers’ Committee.
The fair housing planning process in the new regulation replaces earlier fair housing guidance. Over the 20-year period that this guidance has been in place, it has failed to provide a workable tool for fair housing planning that fosters residential racial and ethnic integration. The new requirements set forth in the regulation provide more clarity as to what is required to comply with this important provision of the Fair Housing Act and promise reinvigorated emphasis on the primary goal of the Act.
“The finalization of the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing regulation is a critical step toward the realization of the Fair Housing Act’s vision of open, inclusive communities,” said Diane Glauber, co-director of the Lawyers’ Committee’s Fair Housing & Community Development Project. “For far too long, the investment of federal housing funds has perpetuated the segregated status quo.”
In recent years, the Lawyers’ Committee has made the affirmatively furthering fair housing requirement an important part of its fair housing work. It has worked to facilitate local community participation in the fair housing planning process and is currently engaged in efforts to improve the quality of the municipal fair housing planning by providing training and consultation to local jurisdictions. This work has also included oversight and enforcement activities. The publication of the regulation provides added impetus to these activities, especially those designed to provide advice and training to jurisdictions about the new requirements in the regulation.
“Although smart planning is important to realizing the goals of the Fair Housing Act, a plan is only worth so much if it is not implemented,” said Joseph D. Rich, co-director of the Fair Housing & Community Development Project. “The Lawyers’ Committee remains steadfast in its commitment to ensuring compliance with the duty to affirmatively further fair housing through administrative enforcement and litigation, when appropriate.”