Biden Executive Order Seeks to Reverse Trump-Era Housing Policies

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Less than a week after taking office, President Joe Biden signed an executive order to help reverse the Trump administration’s housing policy, which involved repealing both the Obama and Clinton administrations’ efforts to enforce the Fair Housing Act.

The new order directs his incoming secretary of Housing and Urban Development, Marcia Fudge, to examine the effects of President Donald Trump’s signature housing policy, “Preserving Community and Neighborhood Choice.” 

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Housing organizations overwhelmingly opposed the Trump-era rule, which repealed the Obama administration’s 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) regulation and a 1994 fair housing rule issued during the Clinton administration. The 2015 policy essentially required state and local housing agencies to provide a detailed accounting of how they were enforcing fair housing policies, particularly in regard to development or rental policies that would cause a “disparate impact” on specific groups. 

Trump and his former HUD secretary, Ben Carson, argued that the Obama-era rule encouraged cities to “abolish single-family zoning, compel the construction of high-density ‘stack and pack’ apartment buildings in residential neighborhoods, and forcibly transform neighborhoods across America so they look and feel the way far-left ideologues and technocratic bureaucrats think they should.”

Another rule crafted by the Trump administration last October made it much harder to bring housing discrimination claims, according to real estate lawyers, because it required plaintiffs to produce significant proof that a policy is both discriminatory and arbitrary. Biden also directed the HUD secretary to examine that policy, which significantly weakened the disparate impact standard for housing and mortgage lending discrimination claims. 

“The Federal Government must recognize and acknowledge its role in systematically declining to invest in communities of color and preventing residents of those communities from accessing the same services and resources as their white counterparts,” Biden’s executive order reads. “The effects of these policy decisions continue to be felt today, as racial inequality still permeates land-use patterns in most U.S. cities and virtually all aspects of housing markets.”