Racially Charged Play for White Votes? Or Pragmatic Step? HUD Secretary Carson’s AFFH Rule Announcement Has Affordable Manufactured Housing Implications


After reviewing thousands of comments on the proposed changes to the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) regulation, we found it to be unworkable and ultimately a waste of time for localities to comply with,” said HUD Secretary Ben Carson, M.D., as part of a statement provided to MHProNews on 7.23.2020. That full statement will be found further below.

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The civil unrest wracked Twin Cities based Minneapolis Star Tribune’s headline reads, “HUD revokes Obama-era rule designed to diversify the suburbs.”

The left-of-center ABC News headline is “Trump officially dismantles Obama fair housing rule he’s never enforced.” Their report goes on to say “In a move squarely aimed at courting white conservative suburban voters, the Trump administration on Thursday officially dismantled an Obama-era rule that sought to lessen the impact of decades of racial segregation in America’s neighborhoods.”

Several left-of-center news sources paint the move as a racially biased play for white suburban voters.

President Trump has tweeted that “The AFFH (Obama) rule was a ruse for social engineering under the guise of desegregation, essentially turning @HUDgov into a national zoning board.”

Presumptive Democratic candidate for president, Obama Administration Vice President Joe Biden’s campaign website indicates he’d support the implementation of the AFFH rule.

Diane Yentel, President of the National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC), stated that Dr. Carson’s rationale for dismantling the rule was “nonsense.”

The Fair Housing Act sought to undo decades of social engineering via racist housing policies that created segregated communities,” Yentel tweeted. “Shameful for a HUD Sec to be so willfully ignorant of (housing) history and so disdainful of his obligation to uphold law.”

Yentel is far from alone on voices from the political left which have thrown down over the announcement.

Thomas Silverstein, President and Executive Director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, labeled the decision as a “full-frontal assault on the rule of law and an insult” adding “The civil rights movement will fight this tooth and nail.

The rule could have significant implications for affordable manufactured housing, which will be unpacked in a planned upcoming report. But two more quotes from other sources will shape the discussion, which will be followed by the specifics of the full HUD Press Release.

According to NPR, “It’s very much required a lot of hiring of experts, planners and land-use people and attorneys to create these very complex plans,” said Edward Pinto, director of the right-leaning American Enterprise Institute’s Housing Center. “The situations in each of those places could be very different. And the first question you have to ask is, how well does that community meet the supply need for housing in that community?” Pinto and AEI’s Housing Center have been cited by MHProNews on several occasions for their research.

NPR also pointed to Kathy O’Regan, professor of public policy and planning at New York University, who also worked at HUD under President Barack Obama and helped craft the AFFH rule. O’Regan said “What was on the books wasn’t working.”

Against that dramatic split is the HUD media release to MHProNews.




Removal of rule returns power to localities in effort to advance fair housing nationwide

 WASHINGTON – U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Ben Carson today announced the Department will ultimately terminate the Obama Administration’s Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) regulation issued in 2015, which proved to be complicated, costly, and ineffective— so much so that Secretary Carson essentially removed its burden on communities by suspending the regulation’s 92 question grading tool in January 2018.

“After reviewing thousands of comments on the proposed changes to the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) regulation, we found it to be unworkable and ultimately a waste of time for localities to  comply with, too often resulting in funds being steered away from communities that need them most,” said Secretary Carson.“ Instead, the Trump Administration has established programs like Opportunity Zones that are driving billions of dollars of capital into underserved communities where affordable housing exists, but opportunity does not. Programs like this shift the burden away from communities so they are not forced to comply with complicated regulations that require hundreds of pages of reporting and instead allow communities to focus more of their time working with Opportunity Zone partners to revitalize their communities so upward mobility, improved housing, and home ownership is within reach for more people. Washington has no business dictating what is best to meet your local community’s unique needs.”

This brand-new rule, called Preserving Community and Neighborhood Choice, defines fair housing broadly to mean housing that, among other attributes, is affordable, safe, decent, free of unlawful discrimination, and accessible under civil rights laws. It then defines “affirmatively furthering fair housing” to mean any action rationally related to promoting any of the above attributes of fair housing.

Now, a grantee’s certification that it has affirmatively furthered fair housing would be deemed sufficient if it proposes to take any action above what is required by statute related to promoting any of the attributes of fair housing. HUD remains able to terminate funding if it discovers, after investigation made pursuant to complaint or by its own volition, that a jurisdiction has not adhered to its commitment to AFFH.

Persons who believe they have experienced housing discrimination may file a complaint of discrimination by contacting HUD’s Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity at (800) 669-9777 or visiting How to File a Complaint on HUD’s website. Materials and assistance are available for persons with limited English proficiency. Individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing may contact the Department using the Federal Relay Service at (800) 877-8339.



MHProNews Commentary

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There are clearly voices on both sides of the two major party divide that are passionate about this move. With approaching 3 months to the general elections – just 101 days to November 3, 2020 today –  most everything that is said or done by a political party and their leaders can be viewed through the lens of election year politics.

There were possible advantages to AFFH for manufactured housing, which were explored in our report linked below.


That said, the fact that under both the Obama and Trump administrations there where no measurable benefits for our industry itself should speak volumes. It must also be noted that costly and difficult to administer rules, to Pinto’s point cited further above, only adds to affordable housing costs.

Any Democratic rhetoric on race or other issues related to AFFH and manufactured housing need look no further than the fact that it has had no measurable benefit for manufactured housing during the Obama years. Saying something is not the same as doing something. Posturing isn’t action.

That noted, there are implications which merit a deeper dive. A follow up on this topic is planned for the days ahead which will explore the possible implications for affordable housing in general and manufactured housing in particular.

Not unrelated is the Manufactured Housing Institute’s (MHI) recent statement. See that linked further below the byline and notices.

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All on Capitol Hill were welcoming and interested with the discussion of manufactured housing related issues on our 12.3.2019 meetings. But Texas Congressman Al Green’s office was tremendous in their hospitality. Our son’s hand is on a package that included the Constitution of the United States and other goodies. MHProNews has worked with people and politicos across the left-right divide.

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Tony earned a journalism scholarship and earned numerous awards in history and in manufactured housing.

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