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The City of Toledo recently passed legislation to uphold its commitment to housing equity and preserve fundamental civil rights protections. An ordinance drafted by The Fair Housing Center was introduced by Councilmembers Gadus, Komives, and Melden in response to new Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) regulations issued by HUD that will effectively gut a key policy designed to dismantle residential segregation and promote neighborhood choice. AFFH is a longstanding fair housing enforcement tool that requires local entities to identify and proactively address housing barriers, and the new ordinance will ensure this critical work continues in the City of Toledo.

“I couldn’t be more proud to see our area housing advocates continuing to push the envelope in affordable, sustainable housing,” stated Toledo City Councilmember Nick Komives. “The AFFH ordinance will allow us to monitor ourselves and provide valuable data and insight into the state of housing in our city. Toledo deserves nothing less than a city that cares for all of its residents.”

“When our federal government attempts to destroy core civil rights protections that have been in place for half a century, it’s up to our local communities to take a stand,” stated Marie Flannery, President and CEO of The Fair Housing Center. “To our knowledge, Toledo is the first city in the country to take this important step and we’re grateful that our local leaders recognize the value of inclusive, vibrant communities. Fair housing means more than having a place to live; it means living in a neighborhood where you can access education, employment, transportation, health care, and other vital resources. AFFH is a critical fair housing enforcement tool that holds local communities accountable for addressing barriers to housing choice and promoting integration, so that everyone has the chance to live in a neighborhood where they can thrive and succeed.”

“As soon as HUD’s new rule was released, The Fair Housing Center drafted a local ordinance that would continue the AFFH requirements locally and asked our City Council to pass it,” said George Thomas, Vice President and General Counsel of The Fair Housing Center. “When local jurisdictions like Toledo commit themselves to continuing this work, it means that these protections will be in place long into the future, regardless of what changes occur at the federal level. We hope cities across the country follow Toledo’s example.”

“HUD’s decision to end the regulations that brought about this work is deeply misguided,” stated Rev. Dr. Donald Perryman, President and Founder of United Pastors for Social Empowerment. “By passing this ordinance, Toledo sends a message of solidarity and continuity of purpose. Even where the federal government hopes to end our progress, we—as a community—commit to the march forward.”

“With the events unfolding over the last few months across this country, it’s clear that people are calling on leaders and elected officials to take meaningful steps to dismantle historic inequities – AFFH is one tool to do that,” stated Ray Wood, President of the Toledo Branch NAACP and Board Member of The Fair Housing Center. “Now is not the time to be rolling back civil rights protections. Passing this ordinance is a way for the City of Toledo to demonstrate that this community is welcoming and inclusive for everyone. This is precisely the kind of step that communities throughout the country should be taking in order to protect the right to safe, stable, affordable housing—not just for some, but for all.”

Neighborhood segregation is the result of deliberate policies such as redlining, which systematically blocked people of color from homeownership for decades and contributed to disinvestment in racially diverse neighborhoods, the effect of which can still be seen today. Decisions about zoning regulations, transportation funding, and affordable housing development are dictated by local communities, and these policies impact a person’s ability to access neighborhoods of opportunity. AFFH provides a framework for communities to improve housing equity by recognizing and correcting the discriminatory practices that led to racially exclusive neighborhoods and ensuring policies foster inclusion.