A new approach to affirmatively furthering fair housing (AFFH) is the sole priority HUD discusses in its Statement of Regulatory Priorities for FY13. Changes to AFFH have long been sought by civil rights and tenant advocates in the hopes that HUD will be more assertive in advancing housing choice for low income people.
Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968 (the Fair Housing Act) requires HUD to administer its programs in a way that affirmatively furthers fair housing. The laws that establish the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program, the Comprehensive Housing Affordability Strategy (CHAS) and the Public Housing Authority Plan (PHA Plan) each require jurisdictions to certify in writing that they are affirmatively furthering fair housing.
The Statement of Regulatory Priorities is quoted extensively here to ensure clarity about HUD’s proposed regulatory change.
“To better fulfill the statutory obligation to affirmatively further fair housing, HUD proposes to replace the existing requirement to undertake an analysis of impediments with a fair housing assessment and planning process that will aid HUD program participants in improving access to opportunity and advancing the ability for all families to make true housing choices.
“To facilitate this new approach, HUD will provide states, local governments, insular areas, and public housing agencies (PHAs), as well as the communities they serve, with data…. From these data, program participants will evaluate their present environment to assess fair housing issues, identify the primary determinants that account for those issues, and set forth fair housing priorities and goals.
“The benefit of this approach is that these priorities and goals will then better inform program participants’ strategies and actions by improving the integration of the assessment of fair housing through enhanced coordination with current planning exercises.
“Key changes include:
- A new fair housing assessment and planning tool, referred to as an assessment of fair housing, which will replace the current analysis of impediments;
- The provision of nationally uniform data that will be the predicate for and help frame program participants' assessment activities;
- Meaningful and focused direction regarding the purpose of the assessment of fair housing and the standards by which it will be evaluated;
- A more direct link between the assessment of fair housing and subsequent program participant planning products – the Consolidated Plan and the Public Housing Agency (PHA) Plan – that ties fair housing planning into the priority setting, commitment of resources, and specification of activities to be undertaken; and,
- A new HUD review procedure based on clear standards that facilitates the provision of technical assistance and reinforces the value and importance of fair housing planning activities.
“The proposed rule does not mandate specific outcomes for the planning process. Instead, recognizing the importance of local decision-making, the rule proposes to establish basic parameters and help guide public sector housing and community development planning and investment decisions to fulfill their obligation to affirmatively further fair housing.”
HUD anticipates the proposed rule will be published in April.
Click here for HUD’s Statement of Regulatory Priorities.