January 5, 2018 – The U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD) announced today that it is delaying implementation of a rule intended to address housing discrimination and segregation in local communities across the country. Implementation of the Affirmatively Further Fair Housing (AHHF) rule, which was adopted in July 2015, will be postponed until at least October 31, 2020. The AFFH rule required recipients of HUD funding, such as state and local governments, to conduct an “Assessment of Fair Housing” to analyze their local conditions and develop priorities and goals to address any problems noted.
Under the original HUD schedule, three communities in North Carolina have submitted AFHs to HUD to date – Wilmington, in 2016, and Winston-Salem and Greenville, both in 2017. In addition, New Bern and Jacksonville were scheduled to submit their AFH studies by October 2018, with an additional 23 communities’ reports due in 2019 and 1 in 2021.
An article in the New York Times quotes advocates, including former HUD officials, as expressing concern about HUD’s delay in implementing the rule. Gustavo Velasquez, the former Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity, called HUD’s decision “terrible news,” and expressed concern that during this period of delay, HUD could attempt to repeal the AFFH rule as a whole.
Although HUD is suspending the AFH requirement, it noted that HUD recipients “must continue to comply with existing, ongoing obligations to affirmatively further fair housing” that are required under the Fair Housing Act. HUD specifically directs governments to use the Analysis of Impediments (AI) procedures that were in place prior to the 2015 adoption of the AFFH rule. Those prior procedures had been criticized by advocates, as well as the General Accountability Office, as inadequate.
A 2010 GAO report on the prior AI process noted serious deficiencies and concluded that “it is unclear whether the AI is an effective tool for grantees … to identify and address impediments to fair housing.” Among the GAO’s recommendations were that HUD “establish through regulation” a requirement that grantees “update their AIs periodically, follow a specific format, and submit them [to HUD] for review.” HUD’s adoption of the AFH requirement was intended in part to address these criticisms.
HUD is accepting comments on its notice postponing the AFH requirement for 60 days, although it states that the notice is being issued “immediately upon publication.”
To read the HUD notice, click here.
To read about HUD’s 2015 adoption of the AFFH rule, click here.