Will federal lawmakers turn back the clock on fair housing?

Charlene Crowell | 3/15/2017, 2:22 p.m.
When future generations read the history of the nation’s first Black President, I believe there will be greater acknowledgement of ...

“By attacking the AFFH rule, Rep. Gosar and other bill sponsors are seeking to re-codify housing discrimination into U.S. law,” noted Maya Rockeymoore, President and CEO of Global Policy Solutions, a social change strategy firm. “By disallowing the collection of federal data by place, race and other key demographics, the bill's sponsors seek to prevent local governments from making their communities the best places to live by limiting their ability to use critical data and information to inform their community planning decisions.”

Until the 1968 Fair Housing Act, local zoning laws across the country supported segregation along with redlining Black communities to exclude borrowers from mortgage and home improvement loans along with a litany of bad real estate practices that denied opportunities to build family wealth. Omitting Black neighborhoods from multiple listing services, door-to-door block-busting that attempted to create a sense of fear from lost property values due to integration, and restricted covenants that explicitly excluded many minorities from ever buying property in designated areas -- were all the kinds of tactics used to preserve segregated housing before the Fair Housing Act.

Fortunately, a growing coalition of progressive interests is conveying to Congress their firm intent to preserve HUD’s rule. Led by the National Fair Housing Alliance, to date more than 950 academicians, individuals and advocacy organizations spanning national, state, and local levels in civil rights, fair housing, affordable housing have joined the battle to preserve an essential component of the Fair Housing Act.

Speaking for the coalition working to preserve the AFFH rule Shanna L. Smith, president and CEO of the National Fair Housing Alliance said, “It reflects the strongly held American value that everyone deserves access to the opportunities they need to flourish, regardless of the color of their skin or the zip code in which they grow up.”

Charlene Crowell is the communications deputy director with the Center for Responsible Lending. She can be reached at Charlene.crowell@responsiblelending.org.