HUD recently released a proposed rule to clarify and expand the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) obligations of HUD program participants (Local governments and States that receive Community Development Block Grants (CDBG), HOME Investment Partnerships (HOME), Emergency Solutions Grants (ESG), and Housing Opportunities for Persons With AIDS (HOPWA), as well as public housing agencies (PHAs)) in accordance with the Fair Housing Act. HUD is proposing this long overdue rule because the current practice of affirmatively furthering fair housing, which involves an analysis of impediments to fair housing choice and a certification that the grantee will affirmatively further fair housing, has not been as effective as envisioned.
According to the new rule, “affirmatively furthering fair housing means taking proactive steps beyond simply combating discrimination to foster more inclusive communities and access to community assets for all persons protected by the Fair Housing Act. More specifically, it means taking steps proactively to address significant disparities in access to community assets, to overcome segregated living patterns and support and promote integrated communities, to end racially and ethnically concentrated areas of poverty, and to foster and maintain compliance with civil rights and fair housing laws.”
The new rule would refine existing AFFH requirements by implementing a new assessment of fair housing (the AFH) and planning process, with the intention of more effectively equipping HUD program participants with the tools to fulfill this statutory obligation. The AFH analysis focuses on four primary goals: improving integrated living patterns and overcoming historic patterns of segregation; reducing racial and ethnic concentrations of poverty; reducing disparities by race, color, religion, sex, familial status, national origin, or disability in access to community assets such as education, transit access, and employment, as well as exposure to environmental health hazards and other stressors that harm a person’s quality of life; and responding to disproportionate housing needs by protected class
HUD plans to provide its program participants with data on patterns of integration and segregation and racially and ethnically concentrated areas of poverty, as well as other detailed data points in order to assist participants with the evaluation and assessment of the present fair housing issues and environment.
The rule was published in the Federal Register on July 19, 2013 and comments are due September 17.