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Biden Promises New Attention to Racial Inequality, Including Fair Housing

The Biden administration is announcing its intentions to overturn several controversial products of the Trump administration to weaken the the implementation of the Fair Housing Act of 1968 and the doctrine of disparate impact at its core.
January 28, 2021, 8am PST | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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Washington, D.C.
Allison C Bailey

The White House released a memorandum for the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) that would take the first steps toward undoing some of the fair housing actions of HUD under the Trump administration. The memo is part of a series of executive orders signed this week by President Joe Biden to address racial equity.

After providing a lengthy introduction that examines the persistent problems of housing affordability and the disparate impacts of the housing affordability crisis on communities and individuals of color, the memorandum announces specifically the Biden administration's intentions to bolster the Fair Housing Act by reversing some of the actions of the Trump administration to weaken the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing Rule.

Several news sources picked up the news of the Biden administration's actions on Fair Housing this week.  

Writing for HousingWire, Alex Roha summarizes the news thusly:

In a memorandum, Biden called on HUD to examine changes the Trump administration made last year to several rules, including “Preserving Community and Neighborhood Choice” and “HUD’s Implementation of the Fair Housing Act’s Disparate Impact Standard.” The agency will examine whether the Trump administration’s rules harmed access to fair housing.

Under Biden’s directive, HUD will reassess its interpretation of the Fair Housing Act’s disparate impact standard, a rule initially enacted by HUD during the Obama administration and used as a mechanism to enforce the Fair Housing Act.

And for Bloomberg CityLab, Kriston Capps writes:

President Joe Biden signed an executive order on Jan. 27 directing his administration to end policies that enable discrimination in housing and lending, and acknowledging the federal government’s role in erecting systemic barriers to fair housing. It’s a blueprint for an agenda aimed at swiftly undoing the controversial efforts of his predecessor.

And for The Hill, Morgan Chalfant and Marty Johnson write:

Biden signed a memorandum directing the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to begin the process of rooting out systemic racism in the housing market by analyzing areas where the previous administration’s policies undermined fair housing laws, according to senior administration officials.

Much of the task of following President Biden's direction to align the work of HUD with the broader goals of the Fair Housing Act now fall to incoming HUD Secretary Marcia Fudge.

A noted by Capps, the Biden administration's work address racial inequality is already planning to go beyond the effort to undo Trump administration's changes to U.S. Fair Housing rules. "The president has pledged federal action to pursue environmental justice, lift restrictions on housing production and ease the racial gap in homeownership and homelessness alike," writes Capps.

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