April 02, 2018

Senator Harris, Colleagues Call on HUD to Keep Words “Free from Discrimination” in Mission Statement

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Following reports that Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Ben Carson is considering removing the words “free from discrimination” from the mission statement of HUD, U.S. Senator Kamala D. Harris led colleagues in calling for the words “free from discrimination” to remain in the agency’s mission statement and for HUD to commit to expand its work to eliminate housing discrimination.

“We are writing to express our deep concern that the Department of Housing and Urban Development is considering changing its mission statement from one that promotes inclusion and discrimination-free communities to one that does not strive to offer the same protections,” said the lawmakers.

The lawmakers continued, “These changes to the HUD mission statement would erase decades worth of progress and bring back an era in which people were denied housing based on the color of their skin. We ask that HUD refrain from making any changes to its mission statement. We additionally ask that you ensure that HUD will continue to build inclusive and sustainable communities free from discrimination, and help hard working families pursue their American dream of safe, affordable and inclusive housing.”

In addition to Harris, the letter was signed by U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and U.S. Representatives Jared Huffman (CA-2), Jerry McNerney (CA-9), Mark DeSaulnier (CA-11), Barabara Lee (CA-13) and Mike Thompson (CA-5).

The full text of the letter can be found HERE and below:

March 29, 2018

The Honorable Benjamin Carson

Secretary

U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development

451 7th Street, SW

Washington, DC  20410

Dear Secretary Carson:

We are writing to express our deep concern that the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is considering changing its mission statement from one that promotes inclusion and discrimination-free communities to one that does not strive to offer the same protections.

Much progress has been made in eliminating discriminatory practices that low-income home-owners and communities of color face. Rates of black homeownership today are lower than the national homeownership rate was during the Great Depression years of the 1930s. In 2016, the National Association of Real Estate Brokers (NAREB) estimated that black homeownership was 41.7%, as compared to non-Hispanic white homeownership that same year at 71.5%.

According to HUD’s website, the department has played a leading role in administering the Fair Housing Act since its adoption, and subsequent amendments to the Act have only increased HUD’s leadership position in this area. Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968 (The Fair Housing Act), prohibits discrimination in the sale, rental, and financing of dwellings on the basis of race, color, religion, sex or national origin.

HUD must lead by example and commit to expand its work in eliminating housing discrimination, in which HUD has been a champion. These changes to the HUD mission statement would erase decades worth of progress and bring back an era in which people were denied housing based on the color of their skin.

We ask that HUD refrain from making any changes to its mission statement. We additionally ask that you ensure that HUD will continue to build inclusive and sustainable communities free from discrimination, and help hard working families pursue their American dream of safe, affordable, and inclusive housing.

We ask for a written response by Monday, April 9, 2018.

Sincerely,

 

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