HUD to receive more American Rescue Plan funds for program to fight housing discrimination

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Under former President Donald Trump, several attempts were made to cut funding to the Department of Housing and Urban Development's Fair Housing Initiatives Program.

The Department of Housing and Urban Development announced on April 5 that $3.3 million in funding allocated under the American Rescue Plan is being made available to the department's Fair Housing Initiatives Program. It said in a statement that a total of $16.1 million under the plan has been allocated to the program so far.

The American Rescue Plan was signed into law by President Joe Biden in March 2021 after passing in both houses of Congress with no Republican support.

According to HUD's statement, "Organizations that qualify for the funding, which is being awarded through FHIP’s Private Enforcement Initiative (PEI) component, will be able to use the money to conduct a range of fair housing enforcement and education and outreach activities, including addressing discriminatory practices in underserved communities."

"Our fair housing partners will utilize these additional funds to oppose discriminatory practices and safeguard housing rights for American families," said Demetria L. McCain, principal deputy assistant secretary for fair housing and equal opportunity.

Studies have shown that existing problems with housing inequality were exacerbated by the pandemic. In a December 2020 report, the Brookings Institution noted that in August of that year the increase in the eviction and foreclosure rate for Black and Latino respondents to a national survey was 7%, while among white respondents it was 2%.

The new funds authorized by the Biden administration follow years of attempts by the administration of former President Donald Trump to cut funding to the program.

Trump's proposed 2020 federal budget included a cut of $3 million in the budget for FHIP; in his 2021 budget, the proposed cut was $5.4 million.

In addition to proposed cuts, the Trump administration was criticized for reportedly delaying the disbursement of existing funding to the program.

In December 2019, Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA), chair of the House Financial Services Committee, sent a letter to Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson about the issue, noting: "HUD has delayed the sole public funding stream for many of the organizations responsible for this work. These funding delays will debilitate nearly one-third of all full-service fair housing organizations, which rely on 3-year grant funding from HUD’s FHIP Private Enforcement Initiative that is set to end this year."

The Trump administration also worked to undermine federal efforts to combat housing discrimination. In 2018, Carson suspended a federal rule put in place under former President Barack Obama that ordered communities to address racial segregation in housing in order to continue receiving federal funding.

The Biden administration reinstated the rule in June 2021, following up an executive order that Biden signed in his first week in office under the title "Memorandum on Redressing Our Nation's and the Federal Government's History of Discriminatory Housing Practices and Policies."

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.