The formal, Federal Register version of the proposed rule to implement the “Fair Housing Act of 1968” obligation to Affirmatively Further Fair Housing (AFFH) was published on February 9. NLIHC has prepared a brief, “Preliminary Highlights of Five Positive Overarching Features of the Proposed AFFH Rule,” based on HUD’s preview version (see Memo, 1/23). NLIHC also issued a media release on January 23 applauding the Biden-Harris administration for developing the proposed rule. After an initial review of the text of the proposed rule, as distinct from the preamble (summarized by NLIHC in Memo, 1/23), NLIHC is generally pleased with the proposed rule. NLIHC continues to study and assess the proposed rule and will provide a detailed, comprehensive summary and analysis at a future time. HUD will accept comments until April 10. NLIHC will offer sample comment letters that advocates should consider using.
The five positive overarching features of the proposed rule are as follows:
- Greatly increased community engagement requirements.
- Greater public transparency.
- A more direct incorporation of the new fair housing Equity Plan’s goals, strategies, actions, and expected funding allocations into jurisdictions’ Consolidated Plans and related Annual Action Plans, as well as into public housing agencies’ (PHAs’) Five-Year PHA Plans and Annual PHA Plans.
- Annual evaluations of progress toward achieving fair housing goals.
- Clarification of and new emphasis on the need for a balanced approach to affirmatively furthering fair housing, an approach that recognizes the need to both invest in disinvested neighborhoods and preserve existing affordable housing as well as to take actions that enable protected class residents to move to areas that already have better community infrastructure and assets.
The Fair Housing Act’s “protected classes” are race; color; sex (which is further defined by the proposed rule as including sexual orientation, gender identity, and nonconformance with gender stereotypes); national origin; disability; familial status (i.e., households with children); and religion.
Even though NLIHC is generally pleased with the proposed rule, there will be suggestions and concerns of which advocates should be aware and that NLIHC will convey to HUD in a formal comment letter. For example, although the proposed rule frequently uses the phrase “affordable housing” and offers a detailed definition of “affordable housing opportunities,” the proposed rule does not define “affordable housing.” NLIHC will urge HUD to define “affordable housing” as housing that requires a household to spend no more than 30% of its adjusted income on housing expenses (rent or mortgage payments) and utilities. (This definition is known as the “Brooke Rule.”)
Find HUD’s preview version of the proposed AFFH rule at: https://bit.ly/3wWsRLH
Find the Federal Register version of the proposed AFFH rule at: https://bit.ly/3RIYfa1
Read NLIHC’s “Preliminary Highlights of Five Positive Overarching Features of the Proposed AFFH rule” here.
Find NLIHC’s summary of the key provisions listed in the preamble of the proposed AFFH rule at: https://bit.ly/3QSVzpM