The Poverty & Race Research Action Council (PRRAC) published a paper, “National Housing Trust Fund: Promoting Fair Housing in State Allocation Plans,” providing guidelines to ensure that states implementing the national Housing Trust Fund (HTF) comply with the legal obligation to affirmatively further fair housing.
In order to receive HTF grants from HUD, states must draft annual HTF Allocation Plans indicating how the state intends to distribute HTF funds, the requirements applicants for the funds must meet, and the state’s priorities for awarding HTF dollars to projects. The HTF Allocation Plan is integrated into a state’s Consolidated Plan (ConPlan) and each Annual Action Plan during the time period covered by the ConPlan. When submitting a ConPlan or Annual Action Plan a state must certify that it is affirmatively furthering fair housing (AFFH).
PRRAC’s paper discusses site selection considerations, pointing to geographic diversity, one of six factors the statute requires states give priority consideration to when deciding which projects should be awarded HTF resources. In the context of AFFH, PRRAC suggests that geographic diversity refers to a cross section of communities, including those that do not have concentrations of minority and low income residents and that have greater opportunities like proximity to high-quality schools, access to transit networks, and other positive neighborhood attributes.
The paper suggests that HTF Allocation Plans adopt policies found in several state Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) Qualified Allocation Plans (QAPs) that foster development in areas of opportunity. For example, the Massachusetts QAP provides a precise definition of “area of opportunity,” Pennsylvania awards points to LIHTC projects located in areas of opportunity, and New Jersey allocates 60% of its tax credits to projects in suburban and rural areas. North Carolina does not award tax credits to projects proposed for areas with high concentrations of minority and low income residents.
The HTF interim regulations require states to undertake affirmative marketing efforts and tenant selection procedures. PRRAC’s paper cites examples of affirmative marketing in QAPs from Georgia and Massachusetts. The paper also describes a number of examples of nondiscriminatory tenant selection and waitlist procedures.
PRRAC encourages new construction in lower-poverty areas of opportunity but acknowledges that investment of HTF resources to preserve existing affordable housing would also be appropriate. PRRAC recommends giving priority to preservation in high opportunity areas and secondary consideration to preservation in high-poverty areas.
The PRRAC paper is at http://bit.ly/1OPtaZX