HUD to Delay Implementation of the Affirmatively Further Fair Housing Rule Until 2020
Early this year, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced that it would be delaying implementation of a rule intended to address housing discrimination across the country until at least 2020. HUD’s failure to implement this rule, which would require state and local governments to conduct assessments of fair housing in their areas could have a significant impact on communities throughout the nation.
Affirmatively Further Fair Housing (AHHF) Rule
Adopted in July of 2015, the AHHF rule requires communities to eradicate discrimination in housing by analyzing policies in their area that contribute to segregation and then submitting plans to HUD indicating how these problems will be addressed. These policies could include the practice of locating low-income housing projects only in black neighborhoods, or barring multifamily housing in areas with good schools. The rule goes on, however, to require the analysis not only of housing opportunities available to minorities, but also to the disabled and the poor. According to the AHHF rule, only when an assessment has been completed, submitted, and approved by HUD can a city receive federal funds in block grants and housing aid.
The delay is expected to affect not only reports submitted in the future, but also those that have already been turned in. In fact, a few weeks ago, HUD announced that it would not only be delaying implementation of this rule, but that it would no longer be reviewing plans that have already been filed. HUD’s notice claims that this delay is necessary because cities need more technical assistance from the agency when completing and filing their reports. In support of this claim, HUD noted that one-third of the first 49 assessments that were submitted by local communities were returned by the agency as unacceptable.
Although there is no evidence that the 2015 rule will be repealed, many critics of the decision to delay implementation fear that by 2020, the current administration will have overhauled or repealed the rule. However, HUD has stated that although it is suspending the AHHF requirements, recipients of federal funds must still remain in compliance with existing obligations to further fair housing contained in the Fair Housing Act. This includes a requirement that governments continue to use the Analysis of Impediments (AI) procedures that existed before the adoption of the new rule in 2015. Unfortunately, these procedures do not require communities to conduct primary data collection. Instead, cities are permitted to use existing data and reports to uncover potential disparities, which could result in skewed findings and the continuation of discriminatory housing practices.