From the Field: New Orleans Submits First Assessment of Fair Housing in the Nation

The City of New Orleans and the Housing Authority of New Orleans (HANO) submitted an Assessment of Fair Housing (AFH) to HUD on October 4, 2016, making it the first jurisdiction in the country to create an AFH following HUD’s 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) regulation. The Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center, an NLIHC member, worked with the City and HANO on the AFH and equipped community members to ensure their voices were heard in the assessment process.

HUD released the long-awaited final AFFH rule in July 2015, implementing the 1968 Fair Housing Act’s requirement that jurisdictions receiving federal funds take proactive steps to counteract discrimination, expand fair housing choice, and foster inclusive communities (see Memo, 7/13/15). The rule dictates that jurisdictions create an AFH in place of the previously required Analysis of Impediments (AI), for which no format or standards existed and which was not required to be submitted to HUD for approval. New Orleans was one of 22 jurisdictions required to submit an AFH in 2016. (See a full list of the 2016 jurisdictions at http://bit.ly/2eWVaAB).

The New Orleans AFH, co-authored by the City of New Orleans and HANO, details the degree to which the city’s areas of opportunity are segregated by race and income and outlines strategies to make housing options more equitable. The AFH incorporates HUD data and information from the 2016 HousingNOLA report, a housing plan for the city that considered many fair housing elements. Incorporating these data and analysis along with input from numerous community meetings, the AFH proposes a comprehensive set of possible solutions the city’s fair housing issues.

Throughout the creation of the AFH, the City of New Orleans and HANO collaborated closely with the Fair Housing Action Center, whose policy team had been preparing for the Assessment since the publication HUD’s 2015 AFFH rule. According to Fair Housing Action Center Senior Policy Analyst Maxwell Ciardullo, the Center worked to “ensure robust engagement from community organizations and civil rights groups” in the creation of the AFH. The Fair Housing Action Center recognized that a wide range of community groups had a strong interest in establishing equitable housing policy in New Orleans, but many did not realize the role they could have in the AFH process. The Fair Housing Action Center hosted four trainings for community organizations to help them understand the AFH process and how they could be involved, assisting participants to analyze the draft AFH and to submit comments concerning it. The Center also organized public housing residents and others to participate in the City’s public comment meetings, achieving an unprecedented level of community engagement in the process.

Following the submission of the assessment to HUD, which has 60 days to accept the AFH or return it for comments, the Fair Housing Action Center has shifted its attention to the city’s implementation of the strategies outlined in the AFH. “We worked with the city to turn their goals into measurable milestones,” said Mr. Ciardullo. “Along with our partners, we'll now work to hold the city accountable to those milestones.” With a municipal election and potential shift in local government on the horizon in 2018, the Fair Housing Action Center will continue to work with the City and HANO to realize the central goals of the assessment and to elevate the voices of community members dedicated to making New Orleans more equitable.

View the New Orleans AFH at: http://bit.ly/2eMed07

For more information, contact Maxwell Ciardullo at mciardullo@gnofairhousing.org.