New Fair Housing Rule Announced by HUD

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Photo credits: Apple Realty


On July 8, HUD announced the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing Final Rule, which helps HUD-funded communities get help to meet fair housing obligations in using HUD funds.  HUD will provide data and tools in addition to technical assistance and guidance to help the local decision-makers regarding affordable and fair housing and community development goals.

The final rule’s goal is to provide HUD program participants with concise guidelines along with data to meet the goals which are outlined in the Fair Housing Act of 1968, which promotes equal opportunity and fair housing where everyone has access to affordable, quality housing regardless of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, disability or familial status.

Has the Fair Housing Act met its goals?

Betsy Julian, the president of Inclusive Communities Project, a Dallas non-profit that won a recent Supreme Court case which protects part of the Fair Housing Act, said, “One of the problems with the failure to really give this statutory provision meaning and teeth up until now is that people could pretend it didn’t mean anything, and failure to comply with it didn’t have consequences.

The Washington Post reported that the new rule has been a “top demand of civil rights groups” seeking to rid major metro areas such as Baltimore and Chicago of historically deep segregation. HUD Secretary Julian Castro chimed in the Post story, calling the final rule “historic”.

“As a former mayor, I know firsthand that strong communities are vital to the well-being and prosperity of families,” Castro said. “Unfortunately, too many Americans find their dreams limited by where they come from, and a ZIP code should never determine a child’s future. This important step will give local leaders the tools they need to provide all Americans with access to safe, affordable housing in communities that are rich with opportunity.”

The recommendations in a 2010 report from the Government Accountability Office set the stage for the final rule. Significant public input, in addition to HUD program participants and other stakeholders who requested technical assistance, clarification, real outcomes and better compliance, were all considered during the final rule’s development.

HUD will phase in the implementation of the final rule as a result of public feedback, giving grantees time to transition to the new balanced approach of targeting investments in areas undergoing revitalization and increasing housing choices in high opportunity areas.

HUD’s new rule also promotes access to quality education, transportation and employment for the program’s participants.

Castro said, “We’re eager to support local leaders in giving every person an equal chance to access quality housing near good schools, transportation, and jobs, no matter who they are, what they look like, how they worship, or where they’re from. This is vitally important because we know that where you live matters. Recently, Harvard economists led by Raj Chetty released a groundbreaking report that verified what many of us already knew in our gut – that children who live in good neighborhoods do much better than those who are stuck in poverty, which is why we must give every young person access to a community of opportunity.”

While clarifying and simplifying fair housing obligations currently in place, the new final rule creates a simple Assessment of Fair Housing planning process that’s designed to help communities determine and analyze the challenges to fair housing choice. Goals and priorities to address these challenges could be established.

“The Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing provision of the Fair Housing Act was intended to help remedy years of government-supported segregation and inequality, not by forcing diversity, but by empowering and encouraging states and localities to partner with the federal government to address the effects of these harmful policies,” U.S. Representative Maxine Waters (D-California) said. “The regulation released today would provide communities with greater clarity on how to help break down barriers to creating neighborhoods of opportunity by arming local authorities with better data to analyze their housing needs. It will empower them to be more strategic in their housing policies and help ensure federal funds are not used to support discriminatory policies, such as those that unfairly deprive minority communities of investment, or zoning laws that unfairly exclude persons with disabilities.”

After the rule is published in the Federal Register, it will take effect 30 days later, but HUD will not fully implement it, program participants need to complete an Assessment of Fair Housing to insure they understand they understand the process and identify and use best practices.



The Atlantic. Can Better Data Help Solve America’s Housing Problems?

DSNews. HUD Announces Final Rule to Further Fair Housing In HUD-Funded Communities




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