NLIHC submitted comments on HUD’s proposed Assessment Tool to be used by public housing agencies (PHAs) to conduct an Assessment of Fair Housing (AFH) in compliance with the new Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) rule (see Memo, 3/28).
The Federal Register notice publishing the draft PHA Assessment Tool describes it as a series of questions designed to help PHAs to perform a meaningful assessment of key “fair housing issues” and “contributing factors” and to set meaningful fair housing goals and priorities.
NLIHC urged HUD to greatly augment the section of the Assessment Tool addressing community participation by providing more guidance to PHAs to enhance resident and community stakeholder participation. NLIHC provided suggestions regarding stakeholders that should be consulted, means of adequately notifying stakeholders, and reporting actions taken to provide for and encourage resident and community participation.
The AFFH rule requires PHAs to use both HUD-provided data and local knowledge to draft an AFH. NLIHC suggested the Assessment Tool offer examples of potential sources of local knowledge such as university studies and the experiences of advocacy organizations, service providers, school districts, and health departments. NLIHC also urged that the Assessment Tool require PHAs to report their discussions with residents of public housing to determine whether residents want to remain in their homes and communities or to relocate to areas that may offer other opportunities.
Regarding three of the four fair housing issues, “Fair Housing Analysis of Segregation,” “Racially and Ethnically Concentrated Areas of Poverty (R/ECAPs),” and “Disparities in Access to Opportunity,” NLIHC commented that the instructions for the “additional information” questions and the questions themselves could be misconstrued to suggest, contrary to the final AFFH rule, a prohibition on the use of resources to preserve public housing and revitalize neighborhoods where public housing is located, even though those neighborhoods have assets not mentioned in the Assessment Tool. Fair housing choice must include residents’ ability to choose to remain in their homes and communities where they have long lived and where they have deep social, community, cultural, and language ties, even if those communities are R/ECAPs. The Assessment Tool should provide guidance that takes such factors and assets into consideration.
The PHA Assessment Tool should include a section on mobility relating to Housing Choice vouchers as drafted for but removed from the local government Assessment Tool, with the changes NLIHC recommended. Major barriers to housing choice revolve around voucher issues related to landlord discrimination, public housing agency portability practices, payment standard policies, and admissions policies.
PHAs are required to submit AFHs according to the following schedule:
- PHAs with more than 550 public housing units and vouchers combined (“non-qualified PHAs”) must submit an AFH 270 calendar days before a new 5-Year PHA Plan is due on or after January 1, 2018.
- PHAs with fewer than 550 public housing units and vouchers combined (“qualified PHAs”) must submit an AFH 270 calendar days before a new 5-Year PHA Plan is due on or after January 1, 2019.
Until required to comply with the new AFFH rule, PHAs must still comply with the existing rule using the Analysis of Impediments to fair housing choice.
NLIHC’s comment letter is at http://bit.ly/1qJMQs5
HUD’s AFFH webpage is at http://bit.ly/1Tm9RuO