PUBLIC COMMENT PERIOD WAIVED
by Sharon Rondeau
(Jul. 24, 2020) — As was reported by various outlets, Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Dr. Ben Carson on Thursday announced a plan to “ultimately” terminate the Affordable Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) program imposed in 2015 by the Obama regime, replacing it with a new policy entitled, “Preserving Community and Neighborhood Choice.”
Section 8 was authorized by the Fair Housing Act of 1968, which stemmed from 1960s-era civil-rights legislation. According to The Washington Post on Thursday, AFFH was “a bid to combat housing discrimination and segregation by requiring cities and towns to scrutinize their housing patterns for racial bias, publicly report the results and set goals for reducing segregation.”
Earlier this month, Trump hinted on Twitter that he favored abandoning AFFH as a result of its “devastating impact” on suburban areas.
Many in the media termed Trump’s comments “an attack” on the policy. The Washington Post opined that Trump’s modus operandi was to win over “suburban white voters,” pointing to a tweet on the subject addressed to “the Suburban Housewives of America.”
In a Friday night interview with Jason Chaffetz, who was sitting in for Sean Hannity, Carson agreed the rule was intended to “stop segregation” but instead, “made us into the watchdog, into the zoning czar,” which he characterized as an affront to the constitutional concept of “federalism.”
In his announcement of the change on Thursday, Carson wrote, in part: “HUD grantees are generally required to certify that they will “affirmatively further fair housing” (AFFH) through HUD’s implementation of the 1968 Fair Housing Act and other applicable statutes. For years after this certification was first required, it was merely part of a general commitment to use the funds in good faith and accompanied similar certifications not to violate various civil rights statutes. Over time however, HUD began to use this AFFH certification as a vehicle to force states and localities to change zoning and other land use laws.”
Carson, who is black, said that as a result of the projected termination of AFFH, he has “already started to hear people say, ‘Well, the Trump administration is racist and they’re backing away from civil rights and fair housing.” “What a bunch of garbage,” Carson commented.
He said that in contrast, nearly 23,000 fair housing cases “left over from the previous administration” have been resolved. He objected to what he described as the AFFH’s additional “layer of bureaucracy to tell people how they’re supposed to live, where they’re supposed to live.”
Carson said he favors “opportunity zones,” which were spearheaded by Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) and passed into law in December 2017, and which the president has said he believes have proved a success in stimulating economic growth and investment in traditionally lower-income areas.
On pages 20-21 of his explanatory brief, Carson said that “The AFFH rule is particularly well-suited to a waiver from public notice and comment because it has already been the subject of extensive public debate…Accordingly, HUD has waived its policy that would otherwise voluntarily subject the new AFFH rule to notice-and-comment. As required by law, the waiver will be printed in the Federal Register.”