HUD’s “Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing” Rule Is about Social Engineering, Not Desegregation

Failure to meet a racial quota is not the same thing as segregation. That basic fact has eluded the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development, which recently adopted a rule called “Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing” that seeks to alter the racial makeup of America’s cities and towns even when there is no justifiable reason to do so.

This recently issued Fair Housing Act rule wrongly defines “segregation” as a “high concentration of persons of a particular race” or “religion.” (See 78 Fed. Reg. 43709, 43730.)

But mere “concentration” is not segregation. For example, Orthodox Jews are concentrated in certain neighborhoods because they have to walk to synagogue, not because of segregation.

The rule wrongly treats communities as segregated if they lack racially “balanced living patterns.” That ignores the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which states that school “‘desegregation” does not require institutions “to overcome racial imbalance,” and the Supreme Court, which stated in Fisher v. University of Texas (2013) that “racial balancing” is “patently unconstitutional.”

The federal government should focus on breaking down arbitrary regulatory barriers to cheap housing—such as onerous zoning regulations—that disproportionately harm minorities (since the Fair Housing Act has now been interpreted, rightly or wrongly, to cover “disparate impact”). But it should not expect communities to meet arbitrary notions of racial “balance,” or spend taxpayer money to do so.