NLIHC submitted a comment letter to HUD on April 24 supporting the proposed Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) rule while also suggesting improvements. NLIHC also signed on to an AFFH comment letter submitted to HUD by the Housing Justice Network (HJN), an informal network of housing attorneys and advocates hosted by the National Housing Law Project (NHLP).
As noted previously in Memo (2/13, 4/3), NLIHC is in general pleased with the proposed AFFH rule and considers the rule an improvement over the 2015 AFFH rule, which was abruptly removed by the Trump administration. NLIHC’s comment letter highlights six overarching features that are especially endorsed by NLIHC, while also suggesting ways to improve each. These six features are (1) enhanced community engagement, (2) greater public transparency, (3) a public complaint process, (4) a stronger link between the (new) Equity Plan goals and Consolidated Plans and PHA Plans, (5) an annual evaluation of progress toward achieving fair housing goals, and (6) clarification of and emphasis on the need for a “balanced approach” to affirmatively furthering fair housing.
NLIHC’s letter includes an extended section regarding needed improvements to the community engagement provisions. NLIHC urges HUD to specifically require community engagement at four stages of the Equity Plan process: identifying fair housing issues, establishing which fair housing issues to prioritize, setting fair housing goals, and commenting on a draft Equity Plan before it is submitted to HUD for review.
NLIHC strongly urges HUD to remove all provisions inviting participating jurisdictions (cities, counties, and states that submit Consolidated Plans (ConPlans) and public housing agencies (PHAs) that submit PHA Plans) to “combine” the AFFH rule’s community engagement provisions with the ConPlan’s citizen participation rules and the PHA Plan’s resident and public participation rules because they are incompatible. Instead, NLIHC asserts that the AFFH community engagement requirements must be separate from and in addition to the ConPlan and PHA plan provisions. NLIHC is concerned that as proposed, the AFFH rule and modified ConPlan and PHA Plan regulations do not provide for genuine, “reasonable opportunities” for public involvement in the process of “incorporating” an AFFH Equity Plan’s goals, strategies, and actions in a ConPlan or PHA Plan.
In the letter, NLIHC suggests improvements to the Equity Plan, especially relating to the content for PHAs, reviewing an Equity Plan, and revising an accepted Equity Plan. In the definitions section, NLIHC includes an extended set of recommendations to improve the definition of “affordable housing opportunities” along with improvements for seven other definitions.
The HJN letter also endorses the proposed AFFH rule. It adds many suggestions for improvements, including requiring more data to inform fair housing analysis, addressing concerns that the rule conflates “affordable” housing with “fair” housing, providing a standalone definition of “accessible” or “accessibility,” adding immigrants and sexual assault survivors to the definition of “underserved communities,” adding an analysis of environmental hazards to the Equity Plan, and adding an analysis of HUD’s public housing “repositioning” policies, along with numerous other additions to the content of PHA Equity Plans.
Read NLIHC’s AFFH comment letter at: https://bit.ly/41Ht5Uw
Read the HJN AFFH comment letter at: https://bit.ly/41Z2WjG
Read NLIHC’s “Overview of Key AFFH Definitions” at: https://bit.ly/3JQkFSY
Read NLIHC’s “Revised Overview of AFFH Community Engagement and Complaint Processes” at: https://bit.ly/3zie6E0
Read NLIHC’s “Overview of the AFFH Equity Plan” at: https://bit.ly/3K4QN5v
Read NLIHC’s “Preliminary Overview of AFFH Equity Plan Submission and HUD Review and Compliance Procedures” at: https://bit.ly/3ZB2Spm
Read NLIHC’s “Preliminary Highlights of Five Positive Overarching Features of the Proposed AFFH Rule,” first provided in Memo, 2/13.
Read NLIHC’s “Key Provisions of the 2023 Proposed AFFH Rule: Based on the Executive Summary and Background Sections of the Preamble,” first provided in Memo, 1/23.
More information about Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing is on page 8-12 of NLIHC’s newly released 2023 Advocates’ Guide and on NLIHC’s Racial Equity and Fair Housing website of the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing webpages.
Find HUD’s easy-to-read preview version of the proposed AFFH rule at: https://bit.ly/3wWsRLH
Find the Federal Register version of the proposed AFFH rule at: https://bit.ly/3RIYfa1