HUD Releases New Rule to Promote Fair Housing Compliance

Thursday, July 09, 2015

This week, our federal government took another important step to ensure the expansion of equal opportunity for all. The United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) released a much-anticipated and hard fought new rule to implement the long-standing provision of the Fair Housing Act intended to address the legacies of racial segregation, concentration of poverty, and the lack of public investment in areas of highly concentrated poverty across our nation. HUD’s Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) Final Rule provides local advocates, stakeholders, and jurisdictions with the critical tools and data they need to identify and address local barriers to fair housing and equal opportunity, and connect that analysis with their plans for allocating housing and community development resources.

The AFFH Final Rule clarifies and simplifies fair housing obligations that have been law for more than 40 years.  It empowers HUD recipient cities, counties, and states to analyze their fair housing landscape and set locally-determined fair housing priorities and goals through an Assessment of Fair Housing (AFH).  To aid communities in this work, HUD’s AFH tool provides open data on patterns of integration and segregation, racially and ethnically concentrated areas of poverty, disproportionate housing needs, and disparities in access to opportunity.  This improved approach facilitates robust community participation, and provides a better mechanism for HUD grantees to build fair housing goals into their existing housing and community development planning processes.

Access to a safe and affordable home near quality schools, transportation, and jobs is a premise basic to the American Dream and to our nation’s future. Unequal access to vital community resources results in unequal access to opportunity, and undermines our prosperity and success as a nation. Recent research has shown that one’s zip code is a more important factor than one’s genetics in determining life expectancy.

The final rule provides a tool to combat growing economic inequality. The economic gulf between rich and poor has grown at an unprecedented rate over the past several decades.  The foreclosure crisis, which disproportionately impacted African American and Latino communities, further contributed to the growth of an already overwhelming racial wealth gap. Sky high rents, a continuing housing crisis, and wage stagnation have made our country less equal than it was several years ago. The AFFH rule provides a framework that will help decision-makers use their housing and community development resources in a way that ensures fairness and equity for all. This, in turn, will help stem the growing trend of inequality.

Fair Housing Matters.Housing choice—especially for low-income communities and communities of color—is a critical component of an equitable and economically prosperous existence. When localities seek federal taxpayers’ funds to strengthen their communities, they must take specific steps to protect fair housing.  Localities must address discrimination and work towards toppling barriers to opportunity for all residents.  Those who seek federal taxpayers’ funds for housing and community development projects have an obligation to protect fair housing and expand opportunity for all.  This rule holds recipients of HUD funding accountable to that promise, while giving them the tools and information to do so.

For additional information on AFFH, HUD Exchange provides a one-stop-shop for training, technical assistance and guidance, and has a feature allowing stakeholders to register and submit questions.  Additional materials will be added to HUD Exchange on an ongoing basis. Publicly-oriented information is hosted on HUD.gov/AFFH.  

Individuals who believe they are victims of housing discrimination or who have questions about the fair housing laws may contact HRC for more information at 1-800-477-5977 (voice) or 213-201-0867 (TTY).