The Department of Housing and Urban Development indicated Friday that it plans to delay an Obama-era fair housing rule that requires local governments to spell out plans for reducing segregation at the risk of losing federal funds.
The agency noted in the Federal Register Friday that it will delay the rolling deadlines for localities to submit the required plans until after 2020.
The rule in question, known as Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing, was finalized by Obama HUD Secretary Julian Castro in 2015 but has been criticized by current Secretary Ben Carson as social engineering.
Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., accused the administration of declaring war on “fair housing” by delaying the rule.
The delay is “a flagrant attack on efforts to ensure fair housing opportunities for all people, including minorities, women, families with children, and persons with disabilities,” said Waters, who is the top Democrat on the House Financial Services Committee.
In July, Carson told the Washington Examiner that his agency would seek to “reinterpret” the rule to lessen the federal government’s role in shaping communities and demanding compliance efforts by cities. But he stopped short of promising to repeal the Obama rule, as sought by some conservatives who view it as federal government intrusion into local affairs.
The rule, which implements a previously neglected part of the 1968 Civil Rights Act, gives localities demographic and socioeconomic data and an assessment tool for gauging whether minorities or other protected groups are cut off economically. The cities are then supposed to draw up plans to address those disparities by, for instance, building low-income housing connected to transit.
In Friday’s document, HUD said the localities that have submitted plans have struggled to meet the requirements and need more time and help completing the paperwork.
"HUD stands by the Fair Housing Act’s requirement to affirmatively furthering fair housing, but we must make certain that the tools we provide to our grantees work in the real world," a statement issued by the agency read.
A large coalition of civil right and affordable housing groups, meanwhile, criticized Friday's announcement, saying in a joint statement that it effectively suspends the rule.
“The administration’s abrupt decision to effectively suspend this critical regulation is misguided,” National Low Income Housing Coalition president Diane Yentel said in a statement. "The federal government, states and local communities have been required by law since 1968 to work to undo the segregated communities that federal housing policy created in the first place. Suspending the tools that help communities meet that obligation, without any input from key stakeholders, is a step in the wrong direction.”