In addition to numerous other materials on the new Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) rule that HUD released on December 31 (see Memo, 1/8), a greatly expanded set of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) was posted on HUD’s Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) website on the same day. A fifth AFFH training webcast, “The Fair Housing Planning Process Under the AFFH Rule,” was made available on January 11.
HUD has modified the shorter AHHF FAQs posted in July, substantially rewriting one and adding seven new ones. The new FAQs are:
- How does the Assessment of Fair Housing (AFH) compare to the Analysis of Impediments (AI)? The first FAQ reminds readers that AFFH is a legal requirement that has existed since the passage of the 1968 Fair Housing Act. The final AFFH rule provides a planning approach to help program participants (cities and counties required to submit a Consolidated Plan [ConPlan], states, and public housing agencies) to take meaningful actions to overcome historic patterns of segregation, promote fair housing choice, and foster inclusive communities.
- What is the AFH Assessment Tool, who is required to use it, and where can I find it? The second FAQ explains that the AFH is a standardized form intended to help program participants analyze fair housing issues and set priorities and goals to establish strategies and actions in their ConPlans and Public Housing Agency Plans. It describes the six key requirements of the AFH process.
- What is the AFFH Rule Guidebook?
- What is the User Interface and how do I access it?
- What is the AFFH Data and Mapping Tool and what is it for?
- When is local data and local knowledge required as part of the AFH? This FAQ gives examples of local knowledge that program participants may consider when preparing an AFH. This FAQ stresses that local knowledge includes information obtained through the required community participation process.
- Where can I find additional information?
The final FAQ in the December 31 iteration rewrites and augments the previous guidance regarding community revitalization. HUD stresses that “the duty to affirmatively further fair housing does not dictate or preclude particular investments or strategies as a matter of law” and that program participants have latitude in prioritizing fair housing goals and strategies. The FAQ states: “HUD’s rule recognizes the role of place-based strategies, including economic development to improve conditions in high poverty neighborhoods, as well as preservation of the existing affordable housing stock, including HUD-assisted housing, to help respond to the overwhelming need for affordable housing. Examples of such strategies include investments that will improve conditions and thereby reduce disparities in access to opportunity between impacted neighborhoods and the rest of the city or efforts to maintain and preserve the existing affordable rental housing stock, including HUD-assisted housing, to address a jurisdiction’s fair housing issues.”
The FAQ goes on, however, to warn that there could be issues with strategies that rely solely on investment in areas with high racial or ethnic concentrations of low-income residents to the exclusion of providing access to affordable housing outside of those areas. For example, in areas with a history of segregation, if a program participant has the ability to create opportunities outside of the segregated, low-income areas but declines to do so in favor of place-based strategies, there could be a legitimate claim that HUD and its program participants are acting to preclude a choice of neighborhoods to historically segregated groups and failing to affirmatively further fair housing as required by the Fair Housing Act.
HUD concludes that place-based and mobility strategies need not be mutually exclusive and that a balanced approach is welcome.
On January 11, HUD released the fifth in a series of webcasts on the new AFFH rule. This latest webcast, “The Fair Housing Planning Process Under the AFFH Rule,” discusses the relationship between the assessment of fair housing issues, the identification of factors that contribute to those issues, and the establishment of fair housing goals. It also provides examples that link fair housing issues to contributing factors and goals.