AFFH Assessment Tool Completes Rulemaking

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Guide to determining disparities

The Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing Rule issued by HUD last July requires recipients of federal housing and community development funding to foster more inclusive communities, promote equal access to community assets, and combat segregation and concentrated poverty.

The goal of the rule is to ensure that low-income renters can live in higher opportunity neighborhoods and to revitalize distressed communities.

On December 31, 2015, HUD issued a Notice in the Federal Register announcing the final approved Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing Assessment Tool which completes the rulemaking process. This guidance applies to local governments that receive funding under HUD’s Community Development Block Grant (CDBG), Home Investment Partnerships (HOME), Emergency Solutions Grants (ESG), or Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS (HOPWA) programs, and for joint and regional collaborations between: (1) local governments, and (2) one or more local governments with one or more public housing agencies. The rule does not apply to States and Insular Areas or for PHAs submitting individual AFHs. Additional guidance will be provided for these participants at a later date.

The requirement to conduct and submit an AFH is set forth in HUD’s Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) regulations.

The intent of the AFFH rule is to enable program participants to more fully incorporate fair housing considerations into existing planning processes and to assist those participants in complying with the Fair Housing Act (FHA) requirement to affirmatively further fair housing. This new process, called the “Assessment of Fair Housing” (AFH), replaces the prior fair housing planning process, called the Analysis of Impediments to Fair Housing Choice (AI).

Under the rule, communities need to examine residential patterns and determine whether their laws, policies, and practices are barriers to affirmatively furthering fair housing. If a community determines that a law, policy, or practice is a barrier, it must then take steps to address it.

The Assessment Tool, which includes instructions and nationally-uniform data provided by HUD, consists of a series of questions designed to assist program participants in the identification of areas of racially and ethnically concentrated areas of poverty, patterns of integration and segregation, disparities in access to opportunity, and disproportionate housing needs.

HUD had four objectives in mind when creating the Assessment Tool: (1) Ask questions that are sufficient to enable program participants to perform a meaningful assessment of key fair housing issues and set realistic fair housing goals and priorities; (2) clearly convey the issues and factors that program participants must undertake in order for an AFH to be accepted by HUD; (3) make the Tool “user friendly;” and (4) facilitate HUD’s review of submitted AFHs.

The rule identifies four fair housing issues that program participants will be required to assess: (1) Patterns of integration and segregation; (2) Racially or ethnically concentrated areas of poverty; (3) Disparities in access to opportunity; and (4) Disproportionate housing needs.

Program participants will begin the process by using the HUD provided assessment tool to gather data that will assist in the identification of fair housing issues and related contributing factors in their jurisdiction and region. Program participants are required to set goals to overcome fair housing issues and related contributing factors. Those goals will guide the future housing and community development planning process for the participant.

The assessment itself is a four-part process:

Part One – Provision of Data and AFH Assessment Tool: HUD will provide each program participant with data and an AFH assessment tool to use in assessing fair housing issues in its community. In addition, HUD will provide technical assistance to aid program participants in submitting its AFH.

Part Two – Analysis: Using the HUD data, local data and local knowledge, the required community participation process, and the assessment tool, each program participant will prepare and submit a complete AFH to HUD, including fair housing goals.

Part Three – Review & Response: HUD has 60-days after receipt of the AFH to determine whether the program participant has met the requirements for providing its analysis, assessment, and goal setting. The AFH will be deemed accepted after 60 days unless HUD provides the program participant written notification of why the AFH was not accepted and guidance on how the AFH should be revised in order to be accepted. This is a particularly helpful part of the final rule, since program participants will not have to wait indefinitely to find out whether their plan has been accepted. No word after 60 days signifies acceptance. HUD will not accept an AFH if it finds that an AFH or a portion of the AFH is inconsistent with fair housing or civil rights requirements or is substantially incomplete.

Part Four – Incorporation into Subsequent Planning Processes and Actions: The goals identified in the AFH must influence the strategies and actions of the Consolidated Plan, the Annual Action Plan, the PHA Plan, and the Capital Fund Plan of the participating jurisdiction.

Initial Due Dates for the AFH Plan
The date on which the first AFH is due depends on the nature and size of the program participant’s HUD grant. Program participants must submit their first AFH plan 270 days prior to the start of their next program year or fiscal year for which a new three-to-five-year consolidated plan or five-year PHA plan is due starting on or after a certain date depending on the category of participant, as follows:

With the exceptions noted below, all Consolidated Plan program participants must submit the first AFH 270 days prior to the program year for which a new three-to-five-year Consolidated Plan is due, starting on or after January 1, 2017.

The following participants will have to submit the first AFH 270 days prior to the program year for which a new three-to-five-year Consolidated Plan is due, starting on or after January 1, 2018:

Local governments with less than $500,000 in FY 2015 CDBG funding, States and Insular Areas, and most PHAs.

The starting date for “Qualified” PHAs is January 1, 2019. A “Qualified PHA” is a PHA that is in good standing with HUD and has fewer than 550 vouchers and public housing units; i.e., very small PHAs.

This is an important new rule, and while the initial impact will not be directly felt by the development industry, there will be a long-term effect. As cities, states, and PHAs begin developing and implementing AFH Plans, the development industry will face significant consequences in terms of how and where they will be able to place new developments. For this reason, developers should closely monitor the AFHs that are proposed by localities in which they work.

Program participants may access the Assessment Tool by going to Under “Updates,” click on “AFFH Data and Mapping Tool.”

Then, under “Resource Links,” click on “AFFH Data and Mapping Tool” and “AFFH Data and Mapping Tool User Manual.”