The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is taking new steps toward implementing the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) rule.
The agency said it will imminently publish a “notice of proposed rulemaking” in the Federal Register with a proposed rule that implements the Fair Housing Act’s AFFH mandate, which directs the government to promote fair housing choice, eliminate disparities in housing, and foster inclusive communities.
The proposed rule streamlines the required fair housing analysis for local communities, states, and public housing agencies and requires them to set ambitious goals to address fair housing issues facing their communities, among other landmark changes.
HUD secretary Marcia Fudge called it a “major step toward fulfilling the law’s full promise and advancing our legal, ethical, and moral charge to provide equitable access to opportunity for all.”
The National Council of State Housing Agencies, National Low Income Housing Coalition, National Housing Conference, and many other housing and civil rights organizations voiced their support in a joint statement.
“We look forward to working with HUD and the entire administration to ensure the final AFFH rule is effective and beneficial to everyone in this nation, and we urge the administration to move forward swiftly with the rulemaking and implementation process,” said the groups.
Specifically, the proposed rule aims to spur HUD program participants to take action in order to ensure members of protected classes have equitable access to affordable housing opportunities, which can be a crucial lifeline for underserved communities that have long been denied equal access to opportunity. It incorporates much of the framework of the 2015 AFFH rule, which was effective for only a short time before the previous administration dismantled it, and includes several refinements based on feedback received from a variety of stakeholders, according to HUD.
In particular, the proposed rule is designed to simplify the required fair housing analysis, emphasize goal-setting, increase transparency for public review and comment, foster local commitment to addressing fair housing issues, enhance HUD technical assistance to local communities, and provide mechanisms for regular program evaluation and greater accountability, among other changes.
Under the proposed rule, program participants every five years would submit to HUD for review and acceptance an “equity plan.” That plan, which must be developed following robust community engagement, would contain their analysis of fair housing issues confronting their communities, goals, and strategies to remedy those issues in concrete ways, and a description of community engagement. The proposed rule would then require program participants to incorporate goals and strategies from their accepted equity plans into subsequent planning documents such as annual action plans and public housing agency plans, announced HUD.
In addition, program participants would be required to conduct and submit to HUD annual progress evaluations that describe progress toward and/or any needed modifications of each goal in the equity plan. Both equity plans and the annual progress evaluations would be posted online. The proposed rule includes provisions that permit members of the public to file complaints with HUD if program participants are not living up to their AFFH commitments and various other provisions that enable the department to ensure that program participants are held accountable for complying with this rule.
HUD seeks public comment on this proposed rule and invites all interested parties and members of the public to submit their views, comments, and recommendations for improvement for this proposal. Comments may be submitted electronically through www.regulations.gov, or through the methods described in the proposed rule.
Read HUD's Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing.