The U. S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) in July 2013 issued a proposed regulation to expand equal opportunity in housing across the country as mandated by the federal Fair Housing Act (FHA). The FHA, enacted in 1968, requires that HUD administer its programs to “affirmatively further fair housing” or AFFH. This includes the activities of state and local governments that choose to receive federal funds for housing or community development activities. However, HUD’s implementation of this requirement has been inadequate until recently, which HUD addresses in the proposed regulation.
There are a number of provisions that we think are particularly important to its success, including the requirement that cities and counties that receive HUD funds consult with fair housing organizations and organizations that represent protected classes in the development of an Assessment of Fair Housing (AFH), which they must submit to HUD for review and acceptance as a condition of receiving HUD funds.
There are also a number of ways in which the rule should be made stronger and more effective. In summary, we recommend that HUD:
1. Set higher performance standards;
2. Ensure effective review of AFHs;
3. Ensure that participants make timely and concrete progress toward achieving their fair housing goals;
4. Ensure that participants adopt strategies both to invest in Racially and Ethnically Concentrated Areas of Poverty and to increase residential mobility and access to community assets;
5. Require transparency; encourage and facilitate public participation in the AFH process;
6. Strengthen provisions for regional collaboration on AFHs; and
7. Include the Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) program as a part of the AFFH planning process.
The Chicago Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights applauds HUD in this major step forward in breaking down segregation and enhancing opportunity for all, which will lead to diverse, thriving communities crucial to making our area and our nation healthy and prosperous. The Chicago Lawyers’ Committee submitted a detailed letter on September 17, 2013, on this subject. Together with the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law (our national affiliate), Poverty & Race Research Action Council, National Fair Housing Alliance, the Chicago Area Fair Housing Alliance, the Opportunity Agenda, and Woodstock Institute, the Chicago Lawyers’ Committee commends HUD for taking this important action, and looks forward to future steps to strengthen the proposed regulation and expand opportunity for all. To read more of the Chicago Lawyers' Committee's comments on the proposed regulation, click here.
Jay S. Readey, Executive Director
Betsy Shuman-Moore, Fair Housing Project Director