Statement By Philip Tegeler, Executive Director Of The Poverty & Race Research Action Council
HUD FAIR HOUSING RULE MAY OFFER NEW TOOLS FOR ENDING SEGREGATED HOUSING PATTERNS AND COMBATING HOUSING DISCRIMINATION
WASHINGTON, July 19, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) today issued a draft rule that has the potential to improve HUD's enforcement of the Fair Housing Act's mandate to address segregated housing patterns and promote diverse, inclusive communities.
The proposed rule implements the section of the Fair Housing Act (42 USC 3608) requiring that HUD and its state and local grantees act "affirmatively to further fair housing" (AFFH) in the administration of housing and urban development programs. Recipients of HUD funding and grants, as well as other federal agencies administering housing programs, already are required to comply with this mandate, but the new rule, if strongly implemented, could clarify state and local obligations and improve the regional planning process.
Specifically, the proposed rule would replace the current "Analysis of Impediments to Fair Housing Choice" (AI) with an "Assessment of Fair Housing" (AFH) that includes some important goals. Under the proposed rule:
- HUD will provide each jurisdiction with uniform national data on racial segregation, poverty concentration, and access to key resources that define "community opportunity." This new approach will substantially reduce the data collection burden for local governments, but will also make it harder for them to hide behind missing or incomplete data, and will move the discussion on the local level more quickly to the question of "what can be done?" to provide access to integrated housing opportunities to all members of the community regardless of their race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation or economic status.
- There is more emphasis on the regional perspective on fair housing choice – especially in the context of segregated metro areas. This has always been an underlying legal aspect of the AFFH obligation, but the new rule would make this clear.
- Public Housing Agencies (PHAs) are more explicitly into the fair housing planning process, which is important since much of the segregation in assisted housing at the state and local level results from PHA policies and practices.
- Fair housing planning is more aligned with the "Consolidated Plan" process that all cities and towns receiving HUD funds must follow – if fully implemented, this could reduce duplicative requirements and help to coordinate fair housing with other planning goals.
There are also some unanswered questions in the new rule that need to be addressed. For example, what is the process for residents who disagree with the AFH? And how will the new planning rules affect state agencies that administer the non-HUD-funded Low Income Housing Tax Credit program, which is the nation's largest low income housing development program, and is contributing to housing segregation in many states?
The proposed rule has the potential of bringing many more people into the conversation about what Americans can collectively do to promote racial integration. But HUD must also be empowered to take stronger action against local governments that are clinging to the past and maintaining segregated housing policies, such as exclusionary zoning and local residency preferences. Support for strong fair housing advocacy at the state and local level is essential to making this rule effective in communities.
PRRAC will continue reviewing details of the 132 page rule (and appendices) in the coming weeks to ensure that HUD's aspirations in the proposed rule are backed up by clear, enforceable regulatory language. We welcome feedback from advocates in the field on how they anticipate the proposed rule will impact local communities.
Michael K. Frisby
SOURCE Poverty & Race Research Action Council (PRRAC)