HUD issued revised Assessment of Fair Housing (AFH) Assessment Tools for local governments and public housing agencies (PHAs) on January 13, 2017. Assessment Tools are to be used to conduct and submit an AFH as required by the new Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) regulation. Assessment Tools issued in 2015 had to be renewed under the Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA). In May, 2016 HUD issued proposed revised Assessment Tools for a 60-day comment period, with an additional 30-day comment period in the fall of 2016. A revised final Assessment Tool to be used by states has not been issued.
A Federal Register notice regarding the local government Assessment Tool highlights six key changes from the 2015 Assessment Tool.
- HUD emphasizes that it is not seeking an inventory of local laws, policies, or practices when the 2016 Assessment Tool solicits information on whether there are any demographic trends, policies, or practices that could lead to higher segregation in the jurisdiction or region.
- In the Disparities in Access to Opportunity section of the 2016 Assessment Tool, HUD identifies where it provides data for each of the opportunity areas to be assessed, and the instructions clarify which protected-class groups are included. HUD also clarifies which questions in the Disparities in Access to Opportunity section require a jurisdictional and regional analysis.
- In the Publicly Supported Housing analysis, HUD changed the list of contributing factors that should be considered that may affect the jurisdiction and region.
- In the Disability and Access analysis, HUD clarifies that the analysis should cover both the jurisdiction and the region.
- HUD includes two inserts designed to facilitate collaboration between different types of program participants that choose to conduct a joint or regional AFH with a local government as the lead entity by reducing the burden for smaller program participants that choose to enter into joint or regional collaborations. One insert is for local governments that receive a Community Development Block Grant of $500,000 or less. The other insert is for a PHA with a combined unit total of 1,250 or fewer public housing units and Section 8 vouchers.
A separate Federal Register notice regarding the PHA Assessment Tool also highlighted changes from the 2015 Assessment Tool. For example:
- Regarding goal setting, the new Assessment Tool provides instructions clarifying how PHAs should identify fair housing contributing factors and clarifying that PHAs should create fair housing goals that are within their own capacity to address.
- There are instructions related to the regional analysis that various-size PHAs must conduct when completing an AFH.
- Regarding disparities in access to opportunity, the regional analysis is not required for PHAs that do not administer the Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) program. However, if PHAs receive information during community participation about regional disparities in access to opportunities relevant to the PHA’s service area, such information must be considered.
- Regarding local data and local knowledge, HUD clarified the instructions indicating when local data and local knowledge is particularly useful because HUD data is not provided or is limited.
- Regarding segregation, the Assessment Tool notes that PHAs should take care to ensure they are focusing on all protected characteristics, not just minority populations. HUD also includes instructions related to analyzing segregation in so-called “majority-minority” communities and where there are concentrations of particular national origin, ethnic, or religious groups in their jurisdictions and regions.
- The proposed Assessment Tool had an insert for Qualified PHAs (those with 550 or fewer combined total of public housing units and vouchers) that collaborate with non-qualified PHAs. The final Assessment Tool changes the threshold for the insert to PHAs with 1,250 or fewer combined public housing units and vouchers to use when collaborating with a PHA that has a combined unit total greater than 1,250.
The PHA notice does not trigger the obligation of PHAs to conduct and submit an AFH because HUD has not yet provided PHAs with the data they need. As HUD makes data available for certain PHAs, HUD will publish a notice in the Federal Register announcing the availability of data, triggering their obligation to conduct and submit an AFH.
NLIHC will carefully review and assess all of the changes in the tools, and provide more detail in a future Memo to Members, if warranted.
Basic information about AFFH is on page 7-4 of NLIHC’s 2016 Advocates’ Guide at: http://bit.ly/1WiozGd