Opinion: HUD Secretary on Making Fair Housing Happen | CNN

Editor’s note: Secretary Marcia L. Fudge is the 18th Secretary of the US Department of Housing and Urban Development. The views expressed in this commentary are my own. See more opinions on CNN.


Martin Luther King Jr. did not live to see the Fair Housing Act become law, but its passage was an important part of his legacy.

The Chicago Freedom Movement, which King helped lead, directly confronted racist policies that prevented Black families from obtaining desired housing in white neighborhoods, pushed working Black people into substandard housing and slums, and trapped them in cycles. seemingly endless poverty.

The full realization of the work of the Freedom Movement, and the advocacy of many others in the Civil Rights Movement, did not occur until the Civil Rights Act of 1968, better known as the Fair Housing Act, became law. just a week after King was assassinated

“Now, with this bill, the voice of justice speaks again. It proclaims that fair housing for everyone, every human being living in this country, is now part of the American way of life,” President Lyndon B. Johnson said at the time.

The Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in housing because of a person’s race, color, national origin, sex (including sexual orientation and gender identity), religion, disability, and familial status.

In addition, the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is directed by the Fair Housing Act to carry out one of our most important functions: to administer our programs and activities in ways that affirmatively advance fair housing.

Courts have long held that that directive requires HUD, and those who receive our funds, to take proactive and significant steps to overcome patterns of segregation, promote fair housing choice, eliminate disparities in housing-related opportunity and foster inclusive communities that are free. of discrimination.

However, for most of the history of the Fair Housing Act, HUD has not fully complied with this requirement. It finally took critical steps in that direction with the 2015 Affirmatively Further Fair Housing rule, which established guidelines for state and local governments receiving HUD funds regarding fair housing.

However, that rule was barely in effect until the summer of 2020, when the previous administration ended it.

Meanwhile, ugly practices of housing discrimination have persisted. Too often, people with disabilities are denied reasonable accommodation or are forced to pay additional fees to rent housing. Working families cannot buy houses because of the color of their skin.

And after decades of unequal treatment, often facilitated by federal funds, many lack real housing choice and the ability to access opportunities that allow them to succeed and prosper.

Under the leadership of President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, HUD is taking bold steps to realize the full promise of the Fair Housing Act and live up to King’s legacy. HUD will soon publish a “Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on Affirmative Furtherance of Fair Housing,” which builds on the successes of the 2015 rule and proposes improvements to strengthen it, based on a deliberative and thoughtful participatory process.

The proposed rule would have a greater impact by requiring local governments and other recipients of HUD funds to set ambitious goals to not only confront and reject housing discrimination in all its forms, but also to recognize and remedy persistent inequality.

It would give state and local leaders the necessary tools and framework to promote fair housing. The rule is intended to allow communities to leverage HUD funds with other federal, state and local resources to develop solutions that meet their unique needs.

Most importantly, the proposed rule would give the community a seat at the table in our continued work to ensure fair housing, while adding accountability mechanisms to ensure that recipients of HUD funds comply with their duty to affirmatively further fair housing.

When finalized, this rule will be critical to our work to address ongoing segregation, divestment from communities of color, and discrimination in real estate markets. In essence, it will allow our country to create more places of opportunity where all residents can prosper.

To get there, HUD is seeking input from the public. We trust that thoughtful and robust feedback will strengthen our collective work to ensure that our commitments to affirmatively advance fair housing can be realized and maintained.

We know that work remains to be done to eradicate discrimination in all its forms and remedy the lasting effects of inequities that our communities have endured for far too long. Every day we are reminded of the many obstacles we still face on that front.

To quote King, “Now is the time to make the promise of democracy a reality. Now is the time to open the doors of opportunity for all of God’s children.”

I am confident that this proposed rule brings us one step closer to realizing the promise of democracy and affirmatively promoting fair housing for all.

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