Restore Housing Decisions to Local Communities

As cabinet appointees are confirmed and begin their new roles, the Trump administration has ample opportunity to reduce the size and scope of government regulation across multiple federal agencies, especially the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Government intervention in the housing market runs deep from policies that caused the financial crisis to onerous rules limiting local economic growth. The administration can start by gutting HUD’s Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing Rule (AFFH), a perfect example of government overreach.

HUD first implemented the rule back in 2015, despite conservative opposition. AFFH requires cities and towns across the country to audit their communities to ensure government mandated levels of diversity. If a community does not meet a bureaucrat’s standard of economic and ethnic makeup, local officials must submit their plans to reorganize the community and housing policies in order to receive federal housing funds through Community Development Block Grants.

HUD claims this rule is needed because “increasing a neighborhood’s appeal to families with different income and ethnic profiles can encourage a more diversified population and reduce isolation.” While this may be a noble goal, individuals and local communities not the federal government, should determine who lives in your community and what companies your neighbor allows. These decisions cannot be left to unnamed federal bureaucrats who think they know best.

Want to know why housing is so expensive? Rules like this. Hours are spent complying with federal standards and writing reports, driving up costs for home buyers and consumers.

Instead of local communities determining how best to use money for low-income housing, Washington, D.C. dictates a one size fits all strategy. Some towns have opted out of federal funding for low-income housing to avoid the hassle of compliance and others are likely to hold off on building projects. Gutting this rule is a good first step toward restoring housing decisions to local communities.

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