The U.S Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) just announced its intention to publish some new regulations which will impact housing providers who receive federal funds. While much of our work involving the Fair Housing Act (FHA) concerns efforts to prevent housing discrimination, another feature of the law is to promote fair housing such that barriers to housing are reduced and underserved populations can better find quality housing in whatever local area in which someone in need resides. Although the effective date of these new regulations is not precisely known (typically 30 days after the regulations are published in the Federal Register), the goal of the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) regulations will be to:
- Replace the analysis of housing impediments with a more effective and standardized assessment of fair housing through which program participants identify and evaluate fair housing issues;
- Improve fair housing assessment, planning, and decision making by providing data that housing providers must consider in their assessments of fair housing;
- Explicitly incorporate fair housing planning into existing processes to more effectively assist community development decision making;
- Encourage and facilitate regional approaches to address fair housing issues, including collaboration across jurisdictions and various housing authorities; and
- Provide an opportunity for the public, including individuals historically excluded because of characteristics protected by the FHA, to provide input about fair housing issues, goals, priorities, and the most appropriate uses of HUD funds and other investments, through a requirement to conduct community participation as an integral part of the new assessment of fair housing process.
According to HUD, this new approach will be designed to empower program participants and to foster the diversity and strength of communities by overcoming historic patterns of segregation, reducing racial or ethnic concentrations of poverty, and responding to identified disproportionate housing needs consistent with the policies and protections of the FHA. The rule also seeks to assist program participants in reducing disparities in housing choice and access to housing and opportunity based on race, color, religion, sex, familial status, national origin, or disability, thereby expanding economic opportunity and enhancing the quality of life. Additionally, HUD concludes these new rules “aim to provide all HUD program participants with clear guidelines and data they can use to achieve those goals.”
While it is too soon to exactly know what HUD is going to expect of those who receive federal funds, I will stay on it and report back as I learn more. Finally, to the extent program recipients will require additional tools to adopt to these new rules, these new regulations will be phased in over time.
Just A Thought.