HUD Restores ‘Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing’ Requirement
The rule suggests it’s not enough for communities to simply avoid blatant discrimination – they should also take affirmative action to further Fair Housing Act goals. The interim rule, effective July 31, reinstates fair housing goals first established in 2015.
WASHINGTON – U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) published an interim final rule Thursday to restore the implementation of the Fair Housing Act’s Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) requirement.
According to HUD Secretary Marcia L. Fudge, the interim final rule goes into effect on July 31, 2021, after HUD takes comments for 30 days after publication. HUD says, however, it might take action prior to that effective date.
In general, AFFH requires local governments to affirmatively promote the goals of the Fair Housing Act, and take steps to correct inequities even if obvious discriminatory practices don’t exist. According to HUD’s announcement, the publication “provides a robust definition of the duty to affirmatively further fair housing, to which many HUD grantees must certify compliance.”
HUD also says it will provide technical support to help communities achieve these goals.
Under AFFH, communities’ affirmative steps include programs that improve things such as “racially segregated neighborhoods, lack of housing choice and unequal access to housing-related opportunities.”
HUD created AFFH in 2015 and required each recipient of HUD funding to undertake a “defined fair housing planning process.” They had to “complete an assessment of fair housing issues, identify fair housing priorities and goals, and then commit to meaningful actions to meet those goals and remedy identified issues.” Under AFFH, HUD reviewed each assessment.
Under the Trump Administration, some of the AFFH rules were changed or eliminated. The latest HUD announcement reverses that decision.
“More than 50 years since the Fair Housing Act’s passage, inequities in our communities remain that block families from moving into neighborhoods with greater opportunities,” Secretary Fudge said in announcing the rule reversal. “As a former mayor and member of Congress, I know firsthand the importance of giving localities the tools they need to ensure their communities have access to safe, affordable housing near quality schools, transportation and jobs. Today, HUD is taking a critical step to affirm that a child’s future should never be limited by the ZIP code where they are born.”
HUD said it also plans to undertake separate rulemaking to improve the 2015 AFFH rule that includes a new fair housing planning process and framework.
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