Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson says he does not plan to rescind an Obama era regulation related to fair housing but wants to reinterpret it instead, reports The Washington Examiner.
The regulation that Republican lawmakers want Carson to rollback is the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) rule, which was finalized by Obama’s HUD Secretary Julian Castro in 2015.
The HUD rule requires 1,200 cities and counties, which get $3 billion of annual community development block grants from the agency, to rezone neighborhoods along income and racial specifications. Otherwise, the localities will lose these block grants.
The regulation upset conservatives when the initiative was funded again last year on funding legislation. Utah Republican Sen. Mike Lee said in a floor speech, that AFFH required cities and towns nationwide to audit their local housing policies through federal HUD regulators, “who may have never have lived anywhere near there.”
“If any aspect of a community’s housing and demographic patterns fails to meet HUD bureaucrats’ expansive definition of ‘fair housing,’ the local government must submit a plan to reorganize the community’s housing practices according to the preferences and priorities of the bureaucrats,” said Lee who attempted to defund the AFFH rule through an amendment on the funding bill last year.
Carson, however, told The Washington Examiner: “Do I believe in fair housing? Of course, I believe in fair housing.” But he said he doesn’t believe in “extra manipulation and cost.”
“So, we just have to reinterpret it, that’s all,” he said.
Carson previously panned the rule in 2015 as a crude attempt to “legislate racial equality” in 2015 but added that he would not completely eradicate it.
“I probably am not going to mess with something the Supreme Court has weighed in on,” Carson said. “In terms of interpreting what it means — that’s where the concentration is going to be,” he said.