On July 23, HUD officially abandoned the 1968 Fair Housing Act’s requirement to Affirmatively Further Fair Housing. The Obama Administration finalized the promulgation of AFFH regulations in 2015, 47 years after the Fair Housing Act was enacted into law. HUD suspended the AFFH in 2018 and proposed to significantly gut it in early 2020. On July 23, HUD formally repealed HUD’s AFFH rules and announced a final rule, which never went through the regular process of first being a proposed or interim rule, called “Preserving Community and Neighborhood Choice.”

The July 23 final rule says that HUD began to use its AFFH certification “as a vehicle to force states and localities to change zoning and other land use laws.” LeadingAge supports HUD’s 2015 AFFH rule and understands the connection between addressing the nation’s severe shortage of affordable housing with the ability to site housing developments in communities connected to needed services and that the workforce of all aging services providers relies on this same affordable housing expansion.

LeadingAge spoke out against HUD's July 23 rule. “Requiring local governments to take proactive steps to protect and further fair housing access is critically important for older adults of all walks of life,” LeadingAge President and CEO Katie Smith Sloan told McKnight’s Senior Living. “Our membership of affordable senior housing providers help older adults find a safe and dignified place to age, and we rely on our partners in government to pave the way. During a pandemic that has hurt older adult and racial minority communities the most, we need to make sure fair housing protections are strong.”

In HUD’s press release on the AFFH termination, Secretary Ben Carson said, HUD found, “the AFFH unworkable and ultimately a waste of time for localities to comply with.” Fair housing and civil rights groups spoke out loudly against the new rule. “At a time when evictions, joblessness, and housing insecurity are exacerbated by the pandemic, gutting the Fair Housing Act will only serve to continue systemic racism and segregation against families of color seeking secure, safe, and fair housing. This cruel action continues housing inequity today as well as for future generations. All people in America deserve fair housing, especially in the midst of a global pandemic,” Vanita Gupta, president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, said.