HUD proposes revamp of fair housing rule

The Department of Housing and Urban Development is proposing to update the “affirmatively furthering fair housing” rule, fulfilling a previously made promise to add an overarching but efficient framework that promotes ongoing progress toward its goal.

The new proposal aims to make it easier “for local communities to identify inequities and make concrete commitments to address them,” said Demetria McCain, principal deputy assistant secretary for fair housing and equal opportunity, in a press release.

It would require the submission of “equity plans” that were designed to be streamlined versions of “assessments of fair housing” under the 2015 version of the rule, and would be both publicly available for review and submitted to HUD on a regular basis.

The proposed revamp of the rule was designed to strike a balance between doing more to address persistent racial inequities in homeownership and tackling ongoing concerns related to the rule’s administrative demands on municipalities.

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“For decades, federal housing policies mandated racial segregation and encouraged market-wide discrimination against people of color. Those actions were intentional and their consequences are still felt today,” said Mitria Spotser, federal policy director and vice president at the Center for Responsible Lending, in an emailed statement. “In issuing this proposal, HUD is moving us closer to fulfilling the promise made by the 1968 Fair Housing Act. 

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While the rule has generally been less mortgage-specific and more far-ranging from a housing perspective than some other measures more specifically aimed at “fair lending” practices, it generally reinforces directives aimed at ensuring inclusive lending practices. The scope of an equity plan would include analysis of access to “services of reputable mortgage lenders,” in addition to “fair and affordable credit” and equitable appraisal practices.

Public comments can be submitted online or by mail in response to the AFFH advance notice of proposed rulemaking.

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