Attorney General Bonta Co-Leads Multistate Comment Letter in Support of Biden Administration’s Proposed Rule to Strengthen Fair Housing Protections

Thursday, April 20, 2023
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The multistate coalition supports HUD’s proposed Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing Rule that would reinstate stronger fair housing protections rolled back by the Trump Administration

OAKLAND — California Attorney General Bonta today co-led a coalition of 18 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 rule implements the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) rule by promoting residential integration and increasing protections against unlawful discriminatory housing practices. In the comment letter, the attorneys general support HUD’s proposed rule and urge the agency to further enhance its protections against housing discrimination and segregation.  

“I enthusiastically support the Biden Administration’s new proposed rule to strengthen fair housing protections: We need to take strong action to put the days of segregation behind us,” said Attorney General Bonta. “The new proposed rule would reinstate and build upon crucial fair housing protections rolled back by the Trump Administration. I am proud to stand with a multistate coalition of attorneys general in support of the proposed Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which will provide communities across the country with critical planning resources to bring us together and promote equal access to opportunity. In California, we’re taking action to end housing discrimination and foster diverse communities – and we support the Biden Administration’s efforts to do the same.”

In light of continued and historic housing discrimination and residential segregation across the United States, the federal Fair Housing Act requires HUD to take affirmative steps to further fair housing, including tackling the legacy of segregation and disparities in access to housing. The new AFFH proposal implements this mandate with a renewed and robust effort to ensure that the goals of the FHA’s AFFH mandate are fulfilled. 

To that end, under the Obama Administration, HUD promulgated a rule to address those goals. 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 to housing access and fair housing choice. In 2020, the Trump Administration rescinded the 2015 AFFH rule and replaced it with a rule that did nothing to combat residential segregation. In today’s letter, the multistate coalition offers strong support for the Biden Administration 2023 AFFH rule, which would replace the Trump Administration’s rule and build on protection 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. It 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 program participants accountable through the proposed complaint and compliance review process. The proposed rule also enables HUD to provide technical assistance and comprehensible data for program participants to use to identify barriers to fair housing and set specific goals to remedy those issues. These important changes lessen burden on program participants while also providing effective accountability measures.

In the letter, the attorneys general strongly support the proposed rule and also offer additional suggestions 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 Bonta remains committed to fighting discriminatory housing policies and upholding protections for those living in California and throughout the country. Last month, Attorney General Bonta sent a letter to the City of Elk Grove, warning that its denial of the Oak Rose supportive housing project violates state housing laws, including fair housing law. In December 2021, he issued an alert reminding tenants of their fair housing rights and protections. And the month prior, he submitted a multistate comment letter urging the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to reinstate a rule on disparate impact liability that protects people from discrimination in housing.

In filing the comment letter, Attorneys General Bonta, Letitia James of New York, and Matthew J. Platkin of New Jersey are joined by the attorneys general of Illinois, Minnesota, Maryland, Washington State, Rhode Island, Hawaii, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maine, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Vermont and the District of Columbia.  

A copy of the comment letter is available here.

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