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President Signs Executive Order on Fair Housing Issues

Biden summarizes the history of U.S. housing discrimination, promises a focus on solving problems, and asks HUD to study two recent regulations that may be repealed.

WASHINGTON – Pres. Joe Biden signed an executive order relating to the nation’s housing industry, citing “ongoing legacies of residential segregation and discrimination.”

The order outlined the path forward that Biden prefers, but it made few immediate changes.

He started by explaining the problem: “Throughout much of the 20th century, the federal government systematically supported discrimination and exclusion in housing and mortgage lending. While many of the federal government’s housing policies and programs expanded homeownership across the country, many knowingly excluded Black people and other persons of color, and promoted and reinforced housing segregation. Federal policies contributed to mortgage redlining and lending discrimination against persons of color.”

Biden says the federal government has a “critical role to play in overcoming and redressing this history of discrimination and in protecting against other forms of discrimination by applying and enforcing federal civil rights and fair housing laws.” He promises to work with communities to end housing discrimination and “lift barriers.”

The executive order also states Biden’s intent to not only “refrain from discrimination but … take actions that undo historic patterns of segregation and other types of discrimination.”

Regulatory actions

The order doesn’t directly change prior regulatory actions, but it directs the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to “take all steps necessary to examine the effects” of earlier regulations. The actions noted in the executive order include:

Preserving Community and Neighborhood Choice,” effective Aug. 7, 2020: He says this includes a possible repeal of a July 16, 2015, rule entitled “Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing,” and the effect that would have on HUD’s statutory duty to affirmatively further fair housing.

HUD’s Implementation of the Fair Housing Act’s Disparate Impact Standard,” effective Sept. 24, 2020: The analysis would include the effect amending the Feb. 15, 2013, rule entitled “Implementation of the Fair Housing Act’s Discriminatory Effects Standard” would have.

After examination, the executive order calls on the secretary of HUD to make any needed changes, including “preventing practices with an unjustified discriminatory effect.”

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