On March 11, HUD’s Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity published a notice in the Federal Register announcing a proposed Assessment Tool that must be used by states and Insular Areas to complete an assessment of fair housing (AFH) as required by HUD’s Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) rule. The proposed Assessment Tool for states and Insular Areas and instructions for completing it are posted on the HUD Exchange AFFH webpage. (The Insular Areas are American Samoa, Guam, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the Northern Marianas Islands and will be referred to as “states” here.)
States do not have to submit an AFH until they are required to have a new 5-Year ConPlan on or after January 1, 2018. Until then states are required to use the current Analysis of Impediments process. An Assessment Tool for local governments that are required to submit Consolidated Plans was finalized on December 31, 2015 (see Memo, 1/11).
The Federal Register notice describes the state Assessment Tool as a series of questions designed to help states identify “fair housing issues,” which HUD considers to be areas with racially and ethnically concentrated poverty, patterns of integration and segregation, disparities in access to opportunity, and disproportionate housing needs. The AFFH rule and the Assessment Tool further describe fair housing issues and their “contributing factors.” The Assessment Tool asks questions that enable states to meaningfully assess fair housing issues and contributing factors and to set fair housing goals and priorities.
The Assessment Tool requires states to examine fair housing issues not only that exist within the state, but that may extend beyond the state’s boundaries to an adjoining state or a broader multi-state region. States may also perform their analyses using sub-state areas.
The Assessment Tool has a section focused on the Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) program, asking questions pertaining to a state’s Qualified Allocation Plan (QAP). States are to identify provisions of a QAP or other state or local laws or policies that might influence the location of LIHTC units. It asks which protected class groups are living in LIHTC units in areas with relatively high levels of segregation, in racially or ethnically concentrated areas of poverty, and in areas of opportunity. States are also asked how QAP provisions might affect families with children, people with disabilities, and elderly people. States are asked to describe any indications of discrimination by LIHTC properties against voucher holders or members of a protected class.
The Assessment Tool also asks questions about other state-administered programs including HOME, Community Development Block Grants (CDBG), the National Housing Trust Fund, state housing trust funds, tax increment financing, and tax-exempt bonds.
As with the Assessment Tool for local governments, the state Assessment Tool requires an analysis of disparities in access to opportunity, including access to education, employment, transportation, low-poverty neighborhoods, and environmentally healthy neighborhoods. The state Assessment Tool also seeks analysis relating to a state’s policies and programs affecting protected classes with respect to emergency preparedness, prisoner re-entry, public health, public safety, and housing and financial opportunities. Regarding housing and financing opportunities, HUD asks states to describe any laws, policies, and practices affecting access to affordable rental housing, homeownership, and mortgages.
The Assessment Tool’s section pertaining to people with disabilities is substantially different from the others, asking states to describe their efforts to assess the extent to which people with disabilities live in segregated settings, existing Olmstead plans or anticipated Olmstead planning efforts, and efforts to implement remedial preferences to provide housing in integrated, community-based settings for people with disabilities.
The Federal Register notice strongly encourages qualified public housing agencies (QPHAs) to collaborate with their states in preparing an AFH. A QPHA is a PHA with fewer than 550 units of public housing and/or vouchers combined. QPHAs do not have to submit an AFH until they are required to submit a new 5-Year PHA Plan on or after January 1, 2019. A section of the state Assessment Tool is tailored for QPHAs collaborating with their states.
HUD will provide states with nationally uniform data that must be used in preparing an AFH. The AFFH rule also requires states to use local knowledge and information in addition to the HUD-provided data. This is important because nationally uniform data do not exist for all protected classes and because some states might have better and more up-to-date data concerning protected classes. Information obtained through the community participation process must also be considered.
HUD will post sample maps and tables intended to provide options for presenting relevant data by March 18.
Comments on the state Assessment Tool are due by May 10.
The March 11 Federal Register notice is at https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2016-03-11/pdf/2016-05521.pdf
A double-spaced, large font version of the Federal Register notice is at http://bit.ly/226RQs7.
The state assessment tool is at http://bit.ly/1REArfH.
A version of the state assessment tool indicating how it differs from the local government assessment tool is at http://bit.ly/1RVsR2F.
The HUD Exchange AFFH webpage is at https://www.hudexchange.info/programs/affh
More information about affirmatively furthering fair housing is on NLIHC’s AFFH webpage, http://nlihc.org/issues/affh