Academic journal article Cityscape

The Proposed Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing Regulatory Impact Analysis

Academic journal article Cityscape

The Proposed Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing Regulatory Impact Analysis

Article excerpt

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not represent the official positions or policies of the Office of Policy Development and Research or the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Summary of Analysis

The Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination and directs the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to promote steps to overcome historic patterns of segregation, fair housing choice, and inclusive communities. The proposed Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) rule would help address the legacy of segregation and locational choice factors influenced by race, color, religion, sex, familial status, national origin, disability, and other protected classes, that typically do not rise to the level of discriminatory actions that violate other sections of the Fair Housing Act.

AFFH proposes a planning process to give HUD program participants more effective means to affirmatively further the purpose of the Fair Housing Act. AFFH requires steps to foster more inclusive communities and access to community assets for all people protected by the Fair Housing Act. HUD would provide states, local governments, public housing agencies (PHAs), and communities with local and regional data on patterns of (1) integration; (2) racially and ethnically concentrated areas of poverty; (3) access to education, employment, low-poverty neighborhoods, transportation, environmental health, and so on; and (4) disproportionate housing needs of protected classes. From these data, grantees would assess the current state of fair housing in their community, identify the primary determinants of the issues revealed in the data, set forth priorities to address these issues, and document these activities in an Assessment of Fair Housing (AFH) report. The rule also proposes new HUD procedures to evaluate grantees' fulfillment of their obligation to affirmatively further fair housing.

The proposed rule may increase some program participants' compliance costs but reduce others as HUD assumes data provision duties. Implementing the proposed rule would require HUD staff to review and approve the AFH reports and assist program participants.

The proposed rule has several key benefits. First, it clarifies fair housing goals, which will help focus program participants' attention and decisionmaking. Second, HUD's provision of key data to identify fair housing issues, understand their drivers, and establish priorities will reduce the cost to local governments, increase analytical rigor, and encourage broad-based engagement. Third, the proposed rule creates more explicit linkages between this process and subsequent planning activities, thereby increasing program participants' attention to fair housing issues as they plan and allocate resources. Fourth, the proposed rule does not prescribe, obligate, or enforce local government pursuit of specific fair housing policies. Taken together, these benefits can improve fair housing outcomes and the welfare of the protected classes.

The rule covers program participants subject to a diversity of local preferences and economic and social contexts. Therefore, significant uncertainty is associated with quantifying the outcomes of the proposed process to identify (1) barriers to fair housing, (2) program participants' decisions on which barriers to address, (3) the types of policies to address those barriers, and (3) those policies' effects on protected classes. The precise outcomes of the proposed AFFH planning process are uncertain, but the rule will enable each jurisdiction to plan meaningfully.

Need for the Rule

A Government Accountability Office analysis of 30 Analyses of Impediments (Als) highlighted the most common impediments to fair housing choice: zoning and site selection, inadequate public services in low- and moderate-income areas, less favorable mortgage terms from private lenders, and lack of access to information about fair housing rights and responsibilities (GAO, 2010). …

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