On December 31, HUD issued the final version of the Assessment Tool that local governments must use to submit an Assessment of Fair Housing (AFH) under the new Affirmatively Further Fair Housing (AFFH) regulations. It appears in a notice in the Federal Register. HUD also issued a 219-page Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing Rule Guidebook, launched the AFFH data and mapping tool, and redesigned its AFFH webpage.
The Assessment Tool is a series of questions designed to help local governments identify racially and ethnically concentrated areas of poverty, patterns of integration and segregation, disparities in access to opportunity, and disproportionate housing needs.
An initial Assessment Tool was published for comment on September 26, 2014 (see Memo, 9/29/14) and a revised Assessment Tool was published for further comment on July 16, 2015 (see Memo, 7/20/15). NLIHC submitted comments regarding the initial draft (see Memo, 11/17/14) and revised draft (see Memo, 8/17/15). Along with the final Assessment Tool, HUD released a “redline” version showing how the final version differs from the revised draft.
The final Assessment Tool only applies to local governments required to submit Consolidated Plans (ConPlan) because they receive Community Development Block Grant (CDBG), HOME Investment Partnerships Program (HOME), Emergency Solutions Grant (ESG), or Housing for Persons with AIDS (HOPWA) formula funds. The National Housing Trust Fund will be added to this list when NHTF money becomes available in 2016. HUD will issue separate Assessment Tools for states, Insular Areas, and public housing agencies (PHAs).
On December 31, HUD also released a data and mapping tool containing 17 maps showing various characteristics such as housing cost burdens by race/ethnicity, disability by type, and Limited English Proficiency. There are also 15 data tables showing demographics such as racially and ethnically concentrated areas of poverty and publicly supported housing by program type. When drafting an AFH, program participants are required to consider these data, as well as locally available data and knowledge. HUD provides a 43-page User Guide to help program participants and advocates use the HUD-provided data and maps.
The Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing Rule Guidebook is a detailed, comprehensive presentation of the new AFFH regulation. The Guidebook describes the AFH process and timeline, use of the Assessment Tool to complete an AFH, and the content of the AFH. The Guidebook is a useful resource for advocates. An appendix provides an optional AFH checklist and worksheet for program participants that could help advocates monitoring their jurisdictions’ compliance. The appendix also provides a sample AFH and five examples of fair housing goals.
The notice states that no AFH will have to be submitted before October 4, 2016. Only local governments that received a CDBG grant of $500,000 or more in FY15 and that have a new 5-Year ConPlan due on or after January 1, 2017 are required to submit an AFH in 2016 or 2017. Based on estimates that HUD provided to NLIHC in October, only 22 jurisdictions will be required to submit an AFH in 2016, and 105 jurisdictions will follow in 2017 (see Memo, 10/19/15).
The notice states that a schedule of submission dates for all 1,233 entitlement jurisdictions will be posted on HUD’s AFFH webpage. Until the official HUD posting, advocates can go to NLIHC’s webpage for a state-by-state listing of anticipated AFH compliance dates based on information provided to NLIHC by HUD.
The final AFFH rule staggers implementation of the requirement to submit an AFH as follows:
- CDBG entitlement jurisdictions that received at least $500,000 in FY15 and that must have a new 5-Year ConPlan on or after January 1, 2017 will be the first to submit an initial AFH.
- States do not have to submit an AFH until they are required to have a new 5-Year ConPlan on or after January 1, 2018.
- CDBG entitlement jurisdictions that received less than $500,000 in FY15 do not have to submit an AFH until they are required to have a new 5-Year ConPlan on or after January 1, 2018.
- PHAs with more than 550 units of public housing and/or vouchers, combined, do not have to comply with the new AFFH system until they are required to submit a new 5-Year PHA Plan on or after January 1, 2018.
- PHAs with fewer than 550 units of public housing and/or vouchers, combined, (known as “Qualified PHAs”) do not have to comply with the new AFFH system until they are required to submit a new 5-Year PHA Plan on or after January 1, 2019.
Until required to submit a new 5-Year ConPlan, a jurisdiction must continue to follow the existing Analysis of Impediments (AI) to fair housing choice process, certifying that the jurisdiction has conducted an analysis of impediments and is taking appropriate actions to overcome the effects of any impediments. PHAs must continue to follow the existing requirements that call for them to examine their programs, identify any impediments to fair housing in those programs, address those impediments in a reasonable fashion in view of available resources, work with local jurisdictions to carry out any of their AFFH work, and keep records showing the analysis and actions.
HUD has also posted a new AFFH fact sheet titled “The Fair Housing Planning Process Under the AFFH Rule.” The fact sheet stresses that the AFFH rule is a fair housing planning rule and that the approach established by the AFFH rule is designed to improve the fair housing planning process by providing data and greater clarity about the steps needed to assess fair housing issues and the factors that contribute to those issues. The fact sheet also contains the rule’s definitions of “fair housing issue,” “contributing factor,” and “meaningful actions.” The fact sheet outlines the five essential components of the fair housing planning process: ensuring community participation, assessing fair housing issues, identifying contributing factors, prioritizing contributing factors, and setting fair housing goals. The strategies and actions to implement the fair housing goals must be included in Consolidated Plans, PHA Plans, and Annual Action Plans.
HUD has produced three webcasts to support implementation of AFFH. Two explain the public participation process for preparing an Assessment of Fair Housing (AFH); one is for ConPlan jurisdictions and one is for public housing agencies (PHAs). A third webcast describes the procedures for submitting an AFH for both ConPlan jurisdictions and PHAs.
The two community participation webcasts, each about 16 minutes long, emphasize that public participation must take place prior to the development of the AFH, and that the community participation for the AFH is separate and distinct from that for the ConPlan. Both webcasts stress that program participants (the generic title used in the new rule for both ConPlan jurisdictions and PHAs) must take actions to reach out to people in protected classes, such as people of color and people with disabilities. Materials and public events must be accessible to people with disabilities and to people with limited English proficiency.
The third new webcast, about 17 minutes long, explains when program participants are required to submit their initial AFHs. Most will not be required to prepare an AFH until sometime in 2019. Until required to submit an initial AFH, program participants must at least continue to follow the AI process but could voluntarily begin to comply with the new rule. This webcast also elaborates on how ConPlan jurisdictions and PHAs can submit joint or regional AFHs.
Finally, NLIHC’s website now has an outline of key features of the final Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) rule. NLIHC’s 20-page outline covers essential topics such as the five components of an AFH, the linkage between the AFH and the Consolidated Plan (ConPlan), and the public participation requirements.
NLIHC’s AFFH outline is at http://nlihc.org/sites/default/files/Factsheet_AFFH.pdf
Other AFFH material from NLIHC, including the anticipated dates jurisdictions will have to submit an AFH, is at http://nlihc.org/issues/affh
HUD’s fact sheet, “The Fair Housing Planning Process Under the AFFH Rule,” is at https://www.hudexchange.info/resources/documents/AFFH-Fact-Sheet-The-Fair-Housing-Planning-Process-Under-the-AFFH-Rule.pdf
HUD’s web videos are at https://www.hudexchange.info/programs/affh/resources/:
AFFH Community Participation Requirements for Consolidated Plan Program Participants, https://www.hudexchange.info/training-events/courses/affh-community-participation-requirements-for-consolidated-plan-program-participants-webcast/
AFFH Community Participation Requirements for Public Housing Agencies, https://www.hudexchange.info/training-events/courses/affh-community-participation-requirements-for-public-housing-agencies-webcast/
Procedures of the New AFFH Process, https://www.hudexchange.info/training-events/courses/procedures-of-the-new-affh-process/
HUD’s modified AFFH homepage is at https://www.hudexchange.info/programs/affh
PD&R’s HUDuser modified Assessment Tool page is at http://www.huduser.gov/portal/affht_pt.html#affhassess-tab
The Federal Register notice is at https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2015-12-31/pdf/2015-32680.pdf
A large print version of the Federal Register notice is at https://s3.amazonaws.com/public-inspection.federalregister.gov/2015-32680.pdf
The final Assessment Tool is at https://www.hudexchange.info/resources/documents/Assessment-of-Fair-Housing-Tool.pdf
The redline version showing changes made between the revised and final Assessment Tool is at https://www.hudexchange.info/resources/documents/Assessment-of-Fair-Housing-Tool-Comparison.pdf
The Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing Rule Guidebook is at https://www.hudexchange.info/resource/4866/affh-rule-guidebook
HUD’s AFFH data and mapping tool User Guide are at https://www.hudexchange.info/resource/4867/affh-data-and-mapping-tool