Lawmaker’s Effort to Block HUD Community Central Planning Defeated

Published June 10, 2016

The U.S. Senate tabled a legislative amendment filed by Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) intended to block funding for a program requiring federal government central planning of local communities.

The Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) rule, issued by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), is a set of regulations requiring lawmakers to identify and eliminate local deviations from mandated demographic and socioeconomic quotas in local communities receiving federal government funds.

The regulation is expected to cost taxpayers about $34 million per year, according to government analyses.

In May, Lee filed an amendment to an appropriation bill renewing HUD’s spending authorization for the fiscal year to block HUD from spending money on implementation of the AFFH rule. Consideration of Lee’s amendment was suspended, and funding for AFFH’s implementation went ahead without restrictions.

AFFH ‘a Terrible Plan’

Hans von Spakovsky, a senior legal fellow at The Heritage Foundation, says AFFH is a huge power grab.

“It’s a terrible plan,” von Spakovsky said. “This really is a regulation intended to have the federal government completely take over federal zoning and design neighborhoods and towns the way they think they should be designed.”

‘None of the Government’s Business’

Von Spakovsky says individuals’ choices to live in the communities they prefer shouldn’t be the concern of the national government.

“If individuals on their own choose to live in particular neighborhoods, that’s none of the government’s business,” von Spakovsky said.

Von Spakovsky says local lawmakers should reject federal funding to avoid presidential micromanagement.

“This should scare any and all local towns, cities, and states away from taking any federal money for any type of housing,” von Spakovsky said. “It’s absolutely not worth it. Any federal funds the local town takes is a toe in the door that HUD then uses to smash the door wide open and start dictating the terms of all other housing plans being made.”

Centrally Planning Communities

Jeremy Carl, a research fellow at the Hoover Institution, says AFFH gives the federal government power to reshape every city’s individual character.

“What it’s basically going to do is turn the government into your local zoning board and have federal bureaucrats determining whether your particular neighborhood has the right mix of incomes, race, ethnicity, housing density, and other things,” Carl said. “If it doesn’t, you’re not going to be able to get any federal housing money in your area unless you do various things to ameliorate that.”

Carl says AFFH’s flaws exemplify much larger overall problems in federal housing policies.

“More broadly, this is the problem with public housing, period, as opposed to a more market-based system,” Carl said. “You have the federal government making decisions for people.”

Danedri Herbert ([email protected]) writes from Kansas City, Kansas.