The U.S. Government Accountability Office (“GAO”) and other interested parties acknowledge that the present practice of “affirmatively furthering fair housing,” conducted by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (“HUD”) grantees, should be more effective. Thus, HUD proposes a rule to supply program participants with more effective ways to affirmatively further the policies and intentions of the Fair Housing Act. As envisioned by HUD, affirmatively furthering fair housing entails an analysis of obstacles to fair housing choice and a “certification that the grantee will affirmatively further fair housing.” Major provisions of the proposed rule include:
- Generating a more standardized Assessment of Fair Housing (“AFH”) that program participants would use to evaluate challenges;
- Providing data that program participants must consider in AFHs to help them set goals to address concerns;
- Explicitly incorporating fair housing planning into existing planning processes (e.g. community development, land-use, etc.);
- Facilitating collaboration incentives and incorporating fair housing planning into important regional activities (e.g. public infrastructure investments);
- Requiring community participation as a fundamental part of AFHs; and
- Establishing an approach to affirmatively further fair housing.
HUD is dedicated to taking action to vigorously enforce laws barring discrimination and to providing the promise of fair housing choice. “The opportunity to choose where one lives free from obstacles related to race, color, religion, sex, familial status, national origin, or disability is essential to the ability to engage as a full member of one’s community.” HUD seeks comments on how to improve administration of programs and activities to affirmatively further fair housing. HUD requests responses to several specific questions, including:
- Are the nationally uniform data that HUD is providing to assist in the assessment of segregation, concentration of poverty, and disparities in access to community assets appropriate?
- To what extent would the AFH and related public engagement and planning processes increase or decrease paperwork costs for program participants?
- Are there nonfinancial incentives that HUD should consider to encourage regional collaboration among local governments and states and greater engagement with public housing planning (e.g. bonus points in specific grant programs)?
- Are there appropriate indicators of effectiveness that should be used to assess how program participants have acted with regard to the goals that are set out?
- What forms of technical assistance would be most useful to program participants in undertaking the AFH called for in the proposed rule?
- What impact might a natural disaster or similar type of occurrence have on a program participant’s compliance with the AFH?
Interested persons are invited to submit comments by September 17, 2013. Comments must reference: “FR–5173–P–01 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing” and may be submitted by one of the following methods:
- By Mail: to the Regulations Division, Office of General Counsel, Department of Housing and Urban Development, 451 7th Street SW., Room 10276, Washington, DC 20410-0001, or
- By Electronic Submission (strongly encouraged): through the Federal eRulemaking Portal at www.regulations.gov.
This post was originally published on the legacy ABA Section of Administrative Law and Regulatory Practice Notice and Comment blog, which merged with the Yale Journal on Regulation Notice and Comment blog in 2015.