HUD has approved, and advocates have endorsed, Phase I of the Texas Updated Analysis of Impediments (AI) to Fair Housing Choice submitted on March 25. Texas agreed to update its AI in a conciliation agreement reached after advocates filed a complaint with HUD.
The Texas Low Income Housing Information Service (an NLIHC state partner) and Texas Appleseed requested that HUD find the state’s AI substantially incomplete and the state’s multiple certifications that it is affirmatively furthering fair housing choice inaccurate because the last AI revision occurred in 2003, before multiple hurricanes changed the housing landscape in many parts of the state.
Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing is defined in CDBG and ConPlan regulations as having an Analysis of Impediments to Fair Housing Choice and taking appropriate actions to overcome the effects of impediments. An impediment to fair housing can be an action or an inaction that restricts housing choice or that has the effect of restricting housing choice.
The May 25, 2010 conciliation agreement called for Phase I of the Texas AI update to cover areas eligible to receive hurricane recovery funds. Phase II is to cover the balance of the state. As Texas begins work on Phase II, the May 13, 2011 HUD letter approving Phase I offers a number of recommendations.
HUD comments that the Phase I AI does not contain evidence whether materials provided or public input meetings conducted in preparation of the AI update were offered in languages other than English, or that the formats were accessible and useable by persons with disabilities. The Phase II AI should include such evidence.
Phase II should review jurisdictions’ zoning and land use practices that have the effect of limiting the development of multifamily and affordable housing. Furthermore, Texas should develop a policy that addresses exclusionary practices and identifies actions the state will take when jurisdictions act in ways that might exclude or limit opportunities.
HUD recommends that Texas develop a policy that requires jurisdictions to report civil rights complaints leveled against them. That state policy should also identify corrective actions Texas will take with its local jurisdictions.
HUD highlights a little-considered concept from the 1996 Fair Housing Planning Guide: “Transportation barriers may serve as an impediment to fair housing.” Therefore, HUD suggests that Texas consider access options when assessing the potential location of affordable housing in suburban areas not accessible to public transportation. In addition, the state should consider sites that provide access to better schools and in general address methods for providing incentives to develop affordable housing in areas of higher opportunity.
Phase II should discuss NIMBY (not in my back yard) sentiment encountered by developers who are deterred by community opposition to multifamily and affordable housing. HUD encourages Texas to develop strategies that helps local officials ensure compliance with civil rights laws. Contracts between the state and local jurisdictions should include a statement of the actions Texas will take when a jurisdiction fails to affirmatively further fair housing choice.
Finally, HUD recommends that Texas more fully address the problem of “sundown towns,” places such as Vidor, Texas, where people of color avoid entering once the sun goes down. HUD suggests Phase II determine whether there are other towns that might have the same reputation, and examine the policies and statutes of those towns which perpetuate discrimination and discourage minorities from wanting to live, visit, or open businesses
The May 13, 2011 letter from HUD is at http://www.nlihc.org/doc/HUD_Letter_Approving_Phase1.pdf
More information about affirmatively furthering fair housing and AIs is on page 16 of the 2011 Advocates’ Guide, www.nlihc.org.
The Fair Housing Planning Guide is at http://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/documents/huddoc?id=fhpg.pdf