NMHC and NAA continue to be concerned about potential
impacts of the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) rule as it is
currently written. Last week, debate over that contentious rule was front and
center on the Senate floor. The rule would not directly impose new compliance
obligations on apartment owners, developers and managers. But the proposal’s
broad mission to desegregate communities by combating exclusionary zoning, and
other practices deemed discriminatory, could indirectly affect the industry.
Specifically, the proposal could lead to delays in construction and permitting
decisions - and these types of disruptions may aggravate the housing market’s
already short supply of apartments.
Last week, Senators Mike Lee (R-UT) and Tom Cotton (R-AR) offered an amendment to defund the AFFH rule. That amendment was rejected by a vote of 60-37. Instead, the Senate voted 87-9 in favor of a compromise amendment offered by Senator Susan Collins (R-MA) that would ban HUD authority from dictating local housing regulations and protect the ability of local governments to manage their own zoning and land use laws without HUD’s undue influence.
During Senate debate on her amendment, Collins said, “This amendment prohibits HUD from intervening in local zoning matters. This is an important clarification that should take away any fear that there is any possibility of using HUD funds authorized by the bill to intervene in local zoning decisions.”
However, some members like Senators Lee and Richard Shelby (R-AL) disagreed and raised concerns that the Collins amendment will not stop HUD from intervening. "HUD does not intend to direct any special zoning requirements," Shelby said. "It does, however, intend to significantly influence local zoning decisions by withholding approval of local plans until they meet HUD's central goals."
House has twice passed amendments defunding AFFH as part of their appropriations
bills and is poised to do so again. Last week’s action in the Senate sets up
what could be a contentious debate as the House and Senate work to find common
ground on this issue in the final HUD funding bill.
NMHC/NAA will continue to engage in the debate on this issue and seek ways to mitigate the unintended consequences of the new rule.
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