The multistate coalition supports HUD’s proposed Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing Rule that would strengthen fair housing protections
TRENTON — New Jersey Attorney General Matthew J. Platkin today co-led a coalition of 17 attorneys general filing a comment letter in strong support of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) proposed rule to strengthen critical fair housing protections. The proposed Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) Rule promotes residential integration and increases protections against unlawful discriminatory housing practices.
“Safe, clean, affordable housing is a basic human right,” said New Jersey Attorney General Matthew J. Platkin. “While New Jersey has some of the strongest fair housing protections in the nation, discrimination and segregation in housing still exist across our county. Adopting this rule will require every state to make serious efforts to combat housing segregation, increase transparency, and eliminate systemic barriers to housing access.”
In light of continued and historic housing discrimination and residential segregation across the United States, the federal Fair Housing Act (FHA) requires HUD to take affirmative steps to further fair housing, including tackling the legacy of discrimination in access to housing.
To that end, under the Obama Administration, HUD promulgated a rule to implement the AFFH mandate. The 2015 rule created a process under which state and local jurisdictions were required to examine the barriers to fair housing specific to their communities and develop a plan to overcome disparities in housing access and fair housing choice. In 2020, the Trump Administration rescinded the 2015 AFFH rule and replaced it with a rule that did not combat residential segregation. In today’s letter, the multistate coalition offers strong support for the Biden Administration’s 2023 AFFH rule, which would replace the Trump Administration’s rule and build upon the protections included in the 2015 AFFH rule.
The proposed rule requires public entities that receive HUD funding to prepare Equity Plans that identify obstacles to fair housing choice and specific strategies to meet fair housing goals. The rule also promotes community engagement and accountability by making Equity Plans available to the public for review and input, as well as allowing the public to hold funding recipients accountable through the proposed complaint and compliance review process. The proposed rule also enables HUD to provide technical assistance and comprehensive data for program participants to use to identify barriers to fair housing and set specific goals to remedy those issues.
The New Jersey Division on Civil Rights (DCR) has an established record of promoting housing equity through public education and a myriad of enforcement actions. In July 2022, New Jersey, along with Pennsylvania, Delaware and the U.S. Department of Justice, entered into a historic $20 million settlement with former home mortgage lender Trident Mortgage Company LP to resolve redlining allegations. In addition, DCR recently announced enforcement actions in source-of-income discrimination cases in February 2023. In March 2023, Attorney General Platkin and DCR announced enforcement actions against 59 housing providers who failed to comply with the State’s Fair Chance in Housing Act.
“New Jersey has long been committed to addressing disparities in access to safe, affordable housing, and our State will continue to work closely with federal partners to combat housing discrimination,” said Sundeep Iyer, Director of the Division on Civil Rights. “We strongly support HUD’s efforts to strengthen important fair housing protections and to address the legacy of segregation and housing discrimination across the country.”
In the letter, the attorneys general strongly support the proposed rule and offer additional recommendations to further enhance protections against housing discrimination and segregation, including:
- Improving the measurability of fair housing goals;
- Strengthening the community engagement requirements to ensure access for historically excluded and linguistically diverse communities, as well as people with disabilities;
- Requiring participants to analyze racially concentrated areas of affluence in addition to racially concentrated areas of poverty; and
- Strengthening the transparency components of the proposed rule by requiring more information available to the public and more widespread publication of progress reports.
Attorney General Platkin remains fiercely committed to fighting discriminatory housing policies and upholding protections for those living in New Jersey and throughout the country.
The attorneys general of New Jersey, New York, and California co-led the comment letter. They were joined by the attorneys general of Connecticut, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington.