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Some Say HUD Is Streamlining Processes. Others Say It Is Weakening Fair Housing Rules

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The Department of Housing and Urban Development is reportedly trying to roll back federal policies set by the Obama administration meant to prevent discrimination and ensure fair housing across the U.S.

Dr. Ben Carson
HUD Secretary Ben Carson

HUD officials froze a number of fair housing investigations in November until further notice, including one investigation that was looking into an initiative in Hesperia, California, which required landlords to conduct criminal background checks on prospective tenants, making it exceptionally difficult for low-level offenders to find housing without facing discrimination. This was believed to be a serious impediment to their rehabilitation and was feared to force many out on the streets, the New York Times reports.

A case that investigated several housing projects in New York and Ohio where accessibility for the disabled was deemed to be an issue was also put on hold. The group additionally ordered the termination of a Facebook investigation that looked at discriminatory practices in advertising, which allowed developers to prevent certain ethnic groups from viewing their ads, according to the NYT.

News of intentions to scale back these policies follows closely after it was made public that the words “inclusive” and “free from discrimination” would be removed from the HUD mission statement.

Critics are accusing HUD Secretary Ben Carson of intentionally weakening the department's fair housing division when he could be strengthening it with disaster recovery efforts spurred by a $28B fund to help rebuild areas following hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria, according to the NYT.

Others in support of recent efforts said HUD is simply streamlining processes and that what is occurring is part of a normal recalibration that takes place when administrations change.