The Texas Low Income Housing Information Service (TxLIHIS), an NLIHC state coalition partner, reports that HUD rejected the City of Houston’s Analysis of Impediments to Fair Housing Choice (AI). Using the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), TxLIHIS obtained a November 30, 2011 HUD letter detailing the multiple ways in which the Houston AI was incomplete.
HUD’s letter declares that in general the Houston AI is “incomplete and unacceptable” because it fails to:
- Identify and address patterns of segregation based on race and national origin;
- Identify actions to address housing discrimination and impediments to fair housing that Houston mentions in its AI;
- Address access to housing and services for persons with disabilities and persons with limited English proficiency; and,
- Include references to materials and records documenting the city’s actions addressing identified impediments.
More specifically, the letter states the Houston AI is incomplete because it does not:
- Identify as impediments actions known to the city that perpetuate segregation and restrict the availability of housing to African-Americans, Hispanics, or households with children;
- Identify actions to address patterns of existing segregation;
- Specify an appropriate strategy or actions to overcome the shortage of affordable housing for African-Americans, Hispanics, persons with disabilities and families with children;
- Identify any funding, in 2010 or in future years, for fair housing enforcement or enforcement–related activities such as testing.
HUD considers “significant” omissions to include: the absence of an analysis of Census data; the failure to identify the causes of segregation; and the lack of a strategy to address segregation. Yet, as HUD points out, 2010 Census data show that Houston is the 13th most segregated city of the 200 largest cities in the nation.
HUD states that the Houston AI must be revised to describe actions that it will take to address strong patterns of segregation and expand opportunities in areas outside of racial and ethnic concentration. The city should also include data that will enable review and analysis of the location of HUD-assisted, tax credit-assisted, and other affordable housing. HUD also says that the failure to include information about housing provided by the Houston and Harris County public housing authorities presents a significant gap in the analysis. Inclusion of all such information might suggest where to locate future assisted housing in order to provide housing in areas of greater opportunity and with less concentration.
HUD recommends the AI quantify how much CDBG, HOME, ESG, and other HUD funding Houston spent during the last five years in impacted areas compared to the amount spent in non-impacted areas. The letter suggests that it would be helpful for Houston to examine transportation patterns and access to public transportation, the location of schools, and environmental issues.
Houston’s AI acknowledges substantial discrimination due to a general tolerance of inequity, and it says there should be aggressive enforcement. However, HUD notes that the AI does not identify actions to address discrimination.
Houston’s AI also acknowledges that there is discrimination against people with disabilities and that their need for accessible housing is an impediment to fair housing. However, HUD points out that the AI does not identify the scope of the need and does not distinguish between types of housing needed by people with physical, mental, or cognitive disabilities. Nor does the AI contain specific strategies to address those varying needs.
HUD asserts that Houston did not provide any evidence that the public participation process or AI planning material were available to people with disabilities or with limited English proficiency.
The Houston AI failed to provide quantitative goals that the city could use to measure progress in affirmatively furthering fair housing. Such progress must be in each year’s Consolidated Plan Annual Action Plan and CAPER (ConPlan performance report).
Finally, the HUD letter lists twelve other potential impediments Houston should consider, such as city ordinances, code enforcement practices, and private market steering of renters and homebuyers to areas of racial and ethnic concentration.
The blog entry from the Texas Low Income Housing Information Service is at: http://texashousers.net/2012/02/08/hud-rejects-city-of-houston-fair-housing-effort
HUD’s November 30, 2011 letter is available at: http://nlihc.org/doc/HUD_Houston_AI_Ltr_11-30-11.pdf