July 9, 2015
Fast on the heels of the recent Supreme Court decision upholding disparate impact Fair Housing claims, the Department of Housing and Urban Development has issued a final rule, Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing:
Through this final rule, HUD provides HUD program participants with an approach to more effectively and efficiently incorporate into their planning processes the duty to affirmatively further the purposes and policies of the Fair Housing Act, which is title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968. The Fair Housing Act not only prohibits discrimination but, in conjunction with other statutes, directs HUD’s program participants to take significant actions to overcome historic patterns of segregation, achieve truly balanced and integrated living patterns, promote fair housing choice, and foster inclusive communities that are free from discrimination. The approach to affirmatively furthering fair housing carried out by HUD program participants prior to this rule, which involved an analysis of impediments to fair housing choice and a certification that the program participant will affirmatively further fair housing, has not been as effective as originally envisioned. This rule refines the prior approach by replacing the analysis of impediments with a fair housing assessment that should better inform program participants’ planning processes with a view toward better aiding HUD program participants to fulfill this statutory obligation.
Through this rule, HUD commits to provide states, local governments, public housing agencies (PHAs), the communities they serve, and the general public, to the fullest extent possible,with local and regional data on integrated and segregated living patterns, racially or ethnically concentrated areas of poverty, the location of certain publicly supported housing, access to opportunity afforded by key community assets, and disproportionate housing needs based on classes protected by the Fair Housing Act. Through the availability of such data and available local data and knowledge, the approach provided by this rule is intended to make program participants better able to evaluate their present environment to assess fair housing issues such as segregation, conditions that restrict fair housing choice, and disparities in access to housing and opportunity, identify the factors that primarily contribute to the creation or perpetuation of fair housing issues, and establish fair housing priorities and goals. (1-2)
The tenacious hold that segregation has had over so many communities has been so difficult to address and HUD’s past attempts to do so have come up short so often. One can hope that this change in strategy from an “analysis of impediments” to “a fair housing assessment” can make incremental improvements throughout the nation.
It will be up to the next administration to really implement this rule because at first the rule just requires more planning about fair housing on the part of local communities. It is only later, when HUD evaluates their success and decides whether there will be any consequences for failure, that the rule’s effectiveness can be identified.| Permalink