HUD Terminates Rule on Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing … but Fair Housing enforcement actions continue

On July 23, 2020, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (“HUD”), Ben Carson, intends to terminate a five-year-old regulation known as Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (“AFFH”) and replace it with a new rule.  In doing so, Carson stated that the Obama era AFFH was “complicated, costly, and ineffective.”

The AFFH required localities to directly address the issue of non-discrimination when a community passes housing policies. 

“After reviewing thousands of comments on the proposed changes to the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) regulation, we found it to be unworkable and ultimately a waste of time for localities to comply with, too often resulting in funds being steered away from communities that need them most,” said Secretary Carson. “Instead, the Trump Administration has established programs like Opportunity Zones that are driving billions of dollars of capital into underserved communities where affordable housing exists, but opportunity does not. Programs like this shift the burden away from communities so they are not forced to comply with complicated regulations that require hundreds of pages of reporting and instead allow communities to focus more of their time working with Opportunity Zone partners to revitalize their communities so upward mobility, improved housing, and homeownership is within reach for more people. Washington has no business dictating what is best to meet your local community’s unique needs.”

The new rule being proposed is called Preserving Community and Neighborhood Choice, and according to the HUD press Release, “defines fair housing broadly to mean housing that, among other attributes, is affordable, safe, decent, free of unlawful discrimination, and accessible under civil rights laws.”

Meanwhile, HUD continues enforcing Fair Housing Act violations.

GEORGIA –  Housing providers in Albany Georgia have been charged by HUD for violating the Fair Housing Act for allegedly refusing to grant the reasonable accommodation request of a tenant with disabilities who lived in one of their properties. Read HUD’s Charge.  This case does not deal with emotional assistance animals. Instead, it is an important read because it deals with a requested accommodation for rent payments to coincide with when the disabled tenant received his disability checks and a verbal agreement with the community’s former owner.

NEW YORK – This Charge by HUD is a great example of how NOT to handle a tenant’s request for a reasonable accommodation for an emotional assistance animal. As stated in HUD’s Press Release: “The Fair Housing Act prohibits housing providers from denying or limiting housing to people with disabilities, or from refusing to make reasonable accommodations so that those with disabilities can reasonably use and enjoy their housing. This includes having strict “no- pet” policies, charging additional fees for assistance animals, or imposing unnecessary and unfair rules upon individuals with disabilities.”
For a refresher on the latest HUD guidelines on emotional assistance animals, click here.

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