Big Government, Congress, Mike Lee, Senate

Sen. Mike Lee: AFFH ‘a betrayal of the Fair Housing Act’

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Adapted from Senate floor remarks on May 18, 2016.

Mr. President, in a piece of legislation of this size, there is always much to praise — and, unfortunately, even more to criticize.

I rise today, specifically, to correct one major mistake in this bill. As currently written, it permits the Department of Housing and Urban Development to proceed in the implementation of its radical new regulation, the insultingly misnamed “Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing Rule,” or AFFH.Mike_Lee_official_portrait_112th_Congress

Proponents of AFFH, including President Obama, claim that it fulfills the original purpose and promise of the Fair Housing Act of 1968.

But the truth is, HUD’s new housing rule isn’t the fulfillment — but a betrayal — of the Fair Housing Act of 1968.

The original intent of the Fair Housing Act was to protect the God-given right of individuals and families — no matter their skin color or ethnicity — to buy and rent homes where they please. By contrast, the explicit purpose of HUD’s new rule is to empower federal bureaucrats to dictate where a community’s low-income residents will live.

This is not what “progress” looks like, Mr. President.

AFFH not only grants unprecedented new powers to HUD that were not contemplated by — and have no legitimate basis in — the Fair Housing Act of 1968, but it will ultimately hurt the very people it purports to help: public-housing residents — especially African-American public-housing residents — who too often find themselves trapped in dysfunctional, broken neighborhoods.

To make matters worse, this new rule will end America’s unique — and uniquely successful — commitment to localism and diversity, and make neighborhood-level construction decisions subject to the whims of future presidents.

If this past year has not yet done enough to give you pause about handing over such power to the Executive Branch, you’re not paying close enough attention.

So I’m offering an amendment today — number 3897 — that would prohibit HUD from using any federal taxpayer money to carry out the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing Rule.

The House of Representatives has already passed this amendment — twice — and will likely to do so again in the near future. We should follow the House’s lead.

Here’s how the rule works.

AFFH requires cities and towns across the country to audit their local housing policies, under close supervision by HUD regulators, who may have never have lived anywhere near there.

If any aspect of a community’s housing and demographic patterns fails to meet HUD bureaucrats’ expansive definition of “fair housing,” the local government must submit a plan to reorganize the community’s housing practices according to the preferences and priorities of the bureaucrats.

Critics of AFFH often say — as I have said — that this rule turns HUD into a National Zoning Board with the power to unilaterally rewrite local zoning laws and land-use regulations in every city and town in America.

But that’s not quite how the rule works, and it’s why Senator Collins’ amendment would not do anything to prevent the implementation of AFFH.

In the 10 months since the rule was finalized, it has become clear that the mechanics of AFFH are much more underhanded and subversive than critics have often claimed.

Under the new rule, HUD doesn’t replace local Public Housing Authorities — it conscripts them into its service.

Mr. President, this gets to the heart of the difference between my amendment and the amendment offered by my colleague, Senator Collins.

The danger of AFFH is not that HUD will direct local governments and public housing authorities to make specific changes to their zoning policies. It will just threaten them, by tying obedience to federal Community Development Block Grants.

CDBG is a federal-grant program controlled by HUD that allocates $3 billion per year to local governments to help them address a variety of community-development needs, including providing adequate and affordable public housing.

Traditionally, local officials have been free to use their CDBG grant money according to their community’s needs and priorities. But under AFFH, HUD officials will withhold a local government’s CDBG funds unless that local government adopts HUD’s preferred housing policies.

Predictably, proponents of the rule claim that this will be a collaborative process, with local-government officials in the driver’s seat while the bureaucrats at HUD merely provide “support” and “guidance.” But the 10-month track record of AFFH suggests that the opposite will be true.

In fact, I have already heard from the Housing Authority of Salt Lake County predicting that the costs of complying with AFFH will stretch their already-thin resources, add hundreds of hours of bureaucratic paperwork to their workloads, and eliminate their autonomy to determine the best ways to provide adequate low-cost housing to their community.

Mr. President, the problem with HUD’s new rule has nothing to do with the intentions behind it.

In a press release announcing the finalization of AFFH, HUD Secretary Julian Castro said: “Unfortunately, too many Americans find their dreams limited by where they come from, and a ZIP code should never determine a child’s future.”

I completely agree.

There’s no disputing that the neighborhood in which a child grows up affects his educational, social, and professional outcomes in the future. Nor is there any disagreement that far too many children today are raised in dysfunctional neighborhoods because it’s the only place their parents can find affordable housing.

The lack of affordable housing is not a new problem in America — just ask anyone who has ever had to pay rent in one the major metropolitan areas controlled by the Democratic Party. But neither is the solution.

The best way to make housing more affordable is to allow more housing to be built. And the best way to help low-income citizens find fair and affordable housing is to empower them to live in a neighborhood that meets their needs.

The history of Chicago is instructive here.

In the 2000s, Chicago’s city government demolished many of its public-housing facilities without a plan to replace them.

Those with the resources and wherewithal to choose where to live moved to places where housing is cheap and economic opportunity is plentiful. But the less fortunate were relocated to more remote, less prosperous towns, like Dubuque, Iowa, at the behest of — who else — the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

In 2008, the city of Dubuque was struggling to meet the needs of its own public-housing residents. Yet in stepped HUD, declaring that the city’s housing policies would fail to meet the agency’s fair-housing standards — and that, therefore, the city would be ineligible to receive federal funding from HUD — unless the local government actively recruited Section 8 voucher holders from Chicago.

Unwilling to lose access to federal funding on which the city had come to rely, the small Iowan town acquiesced to HUD’s demands.

This imposed an enormous administrative burden on the city’s resource-strapped housing agencies, but HUD’s real victims were Chicago’s public-housing residents who were forcibly displaced to an unknown town 200 miles from the city they used to call home.

Mr. President, unless we pass this amendment to defund the disastrously misguided AFFH rule, this is what the future of public housing in America will look like.

I urge my colleagues to join me in supporting this amendment and reaffirming that low-income families are not statistics to be managed by distant bureaucrats — they’re human beings, our neighbors in need, who deserve to be treated with dignity and respect.

This is a guest post by Sen. Mike Lee who represents the state of Utah.
  • Frank W Brown

    A Country Founded by Geniuses but Run by Idiots! AND TYRANTS AND BUREAUCRAPS!!!

    If you can get arrested for hunting or fishing without a license, but 
not for entering and remaining in the country illegally — you might 
live in a nation that was founded by geniuses but is run by idiots.

    If you have to get your parents’ permission to go on a field trip or 
to take an aspirin in school, but not to get an abortion — you might 
live in a nation that was founded by geniuses but is run by idiots.

    If you MUST show your identification to board an airplane, cash a 
check, buy liquor, or check out a library book and rent a video, but not 
to vote for who runs the government — you might live in a nation that 
was founded by geniuses but is run by idiots.

    If the government wants to prevent stable, law-abiding citizens from 
owning gun magazines that hold more than ten rounds, but gives twenty 
F-16 fighter jets to the crazy new leaders in Egypt — you might live in a 
nation that was founded by geniuses but is run by idiots.

    If, in the nation’s largest city, you can buy two 16-ounce sodas, but 
not one 24-ounce soda, because 24-ounces of a sugary drink might make 
you fat — you might live in a nation that was founded by geniuses but is
 run by idiots.

    If an 80-year-old woman or a three-year-old girl who is confined to a 
wheelchair can be strip-searched by the TSA at the airport, but a woman 
in a burka or a hijab is only subject to having her neck and head 
searched — you might live in a nation that was founded by geniuses but 
is run by idiots.

    If your government believes that the best way to eradicate trillions 
of dollars of debt is to spend trillions more — you might live in a 
nation that was founded by geniuses but is run by idiots.

    If a seven-year-old boy can be thrown out of school for saying his 
teacher is “cute,” but hosting a sexual exploration or diversity class 
in grade school is perfectly acceptable — you might live in a nation 
that was founded by geniuses but is run by idiots.

    If hard work and success are met with higher taxes and more 
government regulation and intrusion, while not working is rewarded with 
Food Stamps, WIC checks, Medicaid benefits, subsidized housing, and free
 cell phones — you might live in a nation that was founded by geniuses 
but is run by idiots.

    If the government’s plan for getting people back to work is to 
provide incentives for not working, by granting 99 weeks of unemployment 
checks, without any requirement to prove that gainful employment was 
diligently sought, but couldn’t be found — you might live in a nation 
that was founded by geniuses but is run by idiots.

    If you pay your mortgage faithfully, denying yourself the newest 
big-screen TV, while your neighbor buys iPhones, time shares, a 
wall-sized do-it-all plasma screen TV and new cars, and the government 
forgives his debt when he defaults on his mortgage — you might live in a
 nation that was founded by geniuses but is run by idiots.

    If being stripped of your Constitutional right to defend yourself 
makes you more “safe” according to the government — you might live in a 
nation that was founded by geniuses but is run by idiots.

    If the media panders to your openly socialist leader while the IRS targets groups with dissenting views— you might live in a nation that was founded by geniuses but is run by idiots.

    If your government ‘cracks down’ on legal gun sales to law abiding citizens while secretly supplying illegal guns to Mexican drug cartels— you might live in a nation that was founded by geniuses but is run by idiots.

    If your local government (Chicago) outlawed gun ownership for ‘the safety of its citizens’ and now boasts the worst murder rate in the country — you might live in a nation that was founded by geniuses but is run by idiots.

    What a country!

    How about we give God a reason to continue blessing America?

    This was borrowed from another blog, authors unknown, please spread it far and wide!

  • BonLovesFreedom

    “So I’m offering an amendment today — number 3897 — that would prohibit HUD from using any federal taxpayer money to carry out the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing Rule.” God bless Sen. Mike Lee!!!
    Sure hope this passes…if you have any self-pride at all, stop looking to the government (taxpayers) to provide for all that you desire – work at an honest job and earn your own like the taxpayers do; you are owed NOTHING.

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