HUD Guidance Provides Helpful Points as Jurisdictions Create Plans to Affirmatively Further Fair Housing

Published by Mark Shelburne on Tuesday, August 16, 2016 - 12:00am

While the process is all new and possibly a bit daunting, there is a resource government entities should use when developing their plans to affirmatively further fair housing (AFFH). The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has issued specific guidance on how it will review government entities’ AFFH plans.

HUD finalized the AFFH rule in July 2015. The requirements apply to all recipients of federal housing funding, including local participating jurisdictions, public housing authorities, and state agencies. The deadline for the first plans to be complete is Oct. 4, 2016. HUD then has 60 days to accept or reject those plans.

HUD will determine whether a jurisdiction’s proposal is inconsistent with fair housing requirements, or substantially incomplete, in either process or content. Although not depicted as such in the guidance, the approach can be illustrated in a matrix:

 

Blog Chart: Assessing Plans for Affirmatively Further Fair Housing
Click to Enlarge

 

The guidance states the review will “take into consideration the different circumstances of individual program participants.”

Upon rejecting a plan, HUD says it will “identify the steps the program participant may take to address deficiencies.” Not having timely approval could result in delayed access to program funds, which could cause construction delays and other problems. The guidance provides the following examples of reasons HUD would turn down a plan. A plan would be rejected if it:

  • does not discuss how a local residency preference excludes protected classes and contributes to segregation
  • includes a fair housing issue, such as the presence of racially or ethnically concentrated areas of poverty (R/ECAPs), but fails to either identify the issue as a contributing factor or establish goals to address it
  • sets goal(s) addressing an identified fair housing issue that is/are deficient
  • does not analyze disproportionate housing needs or R/ECAPs
  • lacks a regional analysis
  • is missing part of the analysis for a program participant in a joint plan
  • leaves out relevant local data, such as information about a consent decree or pending fair housing enforcement matter
  • doesn’t provide sign language interpreters at public hearings (upon request), holding a public meeting at facility that is not wheelchair accessible, or failing to take reasonable steps to provide language assistance
  • fails to identify the location and type of affordable housing as a contributing factor to segregation and R/ECAPs
  • identifies disparities in access to opportunity (e.g., schools and transit) as a fair housing issue, but does not include a goal designed to overcome the effects
  • only sets the goal to develop additional affordable housing in areas lacking access to opportunity
  • does not have a goal to provide mobility options or other expanded affordable housing options

The last four examples above may not be at issue in some areas. However, considering the prevalence of R/ECAPs and other fair housing challenges, many jurisdictions will need to consider these items in their plans.

Questions about AFFH or related topics can be directed to mark.shelburne@novoco.com.