Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing

Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing—The New Rule

Overview

Trillions of federal dollars are allocated to local governments to foster economic opportunity for low-income people.  So why are there so many disinvested neighborhoods filled with blight, run down parks and low-performing schools?  Why is it so challenging to place affordable housing in opportunity rich communities? And why are people of color disproportionately affected?  While redlining and many other discriminatory practices are now illegal, the legacy of these policies continue to impact the allocation of resources today, perpetuating unfair economic disadvantages for communities of color. 
 
To correct these challenges, HUD has released the Affirmatively Further Fair Housing (AFFH) Rule. Through the rule, HUD will provide cities, counties, states and housing authorities receiving federal housing and community development funds with technical guidance, local demographic data, and a new assessment tool that will help them identify barriers to opportunity by measuring neighborhoods’ proximity — or lack thereof — to high-performing schools, public transit, local labor markets, healthy environments and other key community assets. 
 
Armed with a better assessment of which neighborhoods are struggling — and why they are struggling — local officials can then develop solutions that fit the unique problems in their areas and steer investments to implement these solutions. Piloted in 74 regions nationwide over the past five years, this process has already proven invaluable in helping local leaders increase access to opportunity within their jurisdictions.

 

Key Details:

 
Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) is a legal requirement mandating that recipients of HUD grant money proactively advance these four goals:
 
  1. Decrease residential segregation;
  2. Eliminate racially and ethnically concentrated areas of poverty;
  3. Reduce unequal access to important community assets, including quality schools, job centers, and transit; and,
  4. Narrow gaps that result in disproportionate housing needs for families with children, people with disabilities, and people of different races, colors, and national origins.

What will the new AFFH rule do?
 

  • Provide jurisdictions and public housing authorities with concrete data and maps on demographics, patterns of segregation and integration, racially/ethnically concentrated areas of poverty, neighborhood disparities in access to community assets (e.g. good schools), and specific housing needs for protected classes (e.g. persons with disabilities).
  • Require HUD grantees to demonstrate commitment to fair housing by completing a standardized Assessment of Fair Housing (AFH), a report that analyzes current impediments to fair housing, fair housing goals, and fair housing implementation strategies.
  • Mandate community participation during every stage of the fair housing assessment and planning process.
  • Directly integrate the Assessment of Fair Housing (AFH) into the 5-year strategic planning processes (‘Consolidated Plans’) of local governments and public housing authorities.
  • Encourage local governments to develop their own strategies to promote fair housing.

What will the new AFFH rule not do?

  • The federal government will not impose specific housing practices (i.e. forced rezoning) onto local jurisdictions.
  • Residents will not be required to move out of or into specific neighborhoods.

What are strategies to affirmatively further fair housing under the new rule?

  • A city could improve public education outcomes by helping residents use Housing Choice Vouchers in higher opportunity neighborhoods.
  • A town could create job incubators within historically disinvested neighborhoods.
  • A municipality could invest in affordable housing in transit-oriented developments to ensure low-income residents have access to jobs via reliable public transport.

Further Resources:

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