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Protecting One Small Step Toward Fair Housing

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The 1968 Fair Housing Act included a requirement that jurisdictions not only combat discrimination in housing, but that they “Affirmatively Further Fair Housing,” known as the AFFH Rule. It requires proactive policies that improve equitable outcomes for all. In 2015, the Department of Housing and Urban Development finally issued concrete guidance on meeting these obligations: now HUD is considering an overhaul. We at Rockford Area Habitat for Humanity believe the 2015 AFFH guidelines should stay in place.  

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Habitat’s work is to increase homeownership opportunity through the construction and sale of homes.  The borrowers who purchase these homes tend to represent demographic pools that have been systemically precluded from the conventional mortgage market.

Our community has a long way to go to realize the Fair Housing Act’s decades-old vision of housing justice.  Many cities like Rockford that were segregated from years of discriminatory legislation remain largely segregated today. The affordable housing crisis continues to have a disparate impact on communities of color. 

Dr. King once spoke of the need not only to play the Good Samaritan when someone is beaten down along life’s roadside, but also to transform that roadside so that it is no longer a place where people are beaten down. Habitat for Humanity aims to restructure the very edifice which makes housing unsafe, unaffordable, and inaccessible to millions in the first place. In other words, we aim to affirmatively further fair housing.

Habitat urges HUD not to rewrite or revoke the AFFH rule. To date, we have seen little improvement in patterns of residential segregation, but we believe this rule is the first significant step toward real, overdue change. 

I’m Caitlyn Baylor and that’s my perspective.