Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing
The struggle to find and maintain safe, decent, and affordable housing is a reality for families nationwide. Even when such housing is available, these units may not be located in areas with access to schools that serve student needs; good jobs; and easily accessible, reliable public transit options – particularly for persons of color, immigrants, families with children, and persons with disabilities. Such disparities are the result of a long series of laws, policies, and practices that entrenched patterns of segregation and poverty. For example, the segregation of public housing led to segregated concentrations of low-income families that persist to this day.
The passage of the Fair Housing Act (FHA) sought to address the pervasive housing discrimination that existed during the 1960s. However, the FHA also contains a powerful mandate: that it is simply not enough to prohibit housing discrimination, but that the federal government must do more in its programs and activities to achieve the aims of the FHA. This mandate is known as the obligation to affirmatively further fair housing (AFFH). The AFFH obligation requires federal agencies and federal funding recipients to take proactive steps to address longstanding patterns of segregation, discrimination, and disinvestment.
Included below are a series of NHLP comments regarding the AFFH Rule and its implementation. Comments on Individual Draft AFFHs
- Civil Rights Groups Applaud HUD’s Release of Critical Fair Housing Rule. (January 2023.) HUD releasing an updated Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) proposed rule is an important step toward creating more equitable and affordable housing opportunities and stronger, more viable neighborhoods.
- NHLP Comments on the Draft Assessment of Fair Housing for San Mateo County (September 2017) These comments focused on the analysis regarding the two PHAs participating in a larger regional assessment.
AFFH Proposed Rule Comments
- NHLP & HJN Comments on Draft AFFH Rule (April 2023) | Federal Register Notice (February 2023)
- Public Housing Must Be a Part of Fair Housing Planning, Shelterforce Op-Ed (March 2023)
- NHLP Comments on Draft AFFH Rule (September 2013) | Federal Register Notice (July 2013)
Statutory and Regulatory Authority
- Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C.A. § 3601 et seq., as amended (prohibiting housing discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, familial status, national origin, and disability)
- Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C.A. § 3608(e)(5) (requiring the HUD Secretary to “administer the programs and activities relating to housing and urban development in a manner affirmatively to further” the policies of the FHA)
- Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C.A. § 3608(d) (all federal executive agencies and departments to administer their programs and activities related to housing and urban development in manner that affirmatively furthers fair housing)
- HUD, Interim Final Rule “Restoring Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing Definitions and Certifications,” 86 Fed. Reg. 30,779 (June 2021)
HUD Guidance and Resources
- Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing Rule Guidebook (December 2015) This Guidebook provides guidance to HUD funding recipients about the AFH process. Note that Section 5 of this guidance is geared toward funding recipients using the Local Government Assessment Tool to complete their AFHs. Even though the Guidebook is written for HUD funding recipients, this guidance includes helpful discussions about topics of interest to advocates such as community participation and goal-setting in the context of the AFH process. Advocates may find the Guidebook to be a useful resource to cite to in advocacy efforts such as comment letters.
- HUD AFFH Data and Mapping Tool The HUD AFFH Data and Mapping Tool provides a series of maps and tables that HUD funding recipients will be using to complete their AFHs. Currently, the Data and Mapping Tool only contains maps and tables for local jurisdictions that are required to submit an AFH.
- HUD, Interim Guidance for Program Participants on Status of Assessment Tools and Submission Options (January 2017) This guidance outlines which assessment tools are to be used in which circumstances, and provides a snapshot of the status of AFFH rule implementation by HUD.
- HUD AFFH FAQs (September 2016) HUD has developed a series of FAQs, arranged by topic, on its HUD Exchange website. Note, however, that these FAQs are written for jurisdictions and PHAs that have to conduct an AFH. These FAQs are searchable by keyword.
- HUD AFFH Field Points of Contact (Per Region) (published in 2016)
- HUD Community Participation Fact Sheets These fact sheets provide quick reference resources outlining community participation requirements for PHAs and jurisdictions, and include relevant citations.
- HUD Exchange Website The AFFH section of the HUD Exchange website serves as HUD’s clearinghouse of HUD-issued resources and announcements related to implementation of the AFFH rule. Anyone interested can also find out information about signing up for HUD’s AFFH e-mail mailing list here.
- HUD Fair Housing Nuisance Ordinance and Crime-Free Ordinance Guidance (September 2016) This guidance was issued by HUD’s Office of General Counsel, and discusses potential fair housing implications that may arise when nuisance and crime-free ordinances are enforced, particularly against groups such as domestic violence survivors and other victims of crime. Notably, this guidance states, on pages 11-12, that one step a local government could make toward meeting its AFFH obligations “is to eliminate disparities by repealing a nuisance or crime-free ordinance that requires or encourages evictions for use of emergency services, including 911 calls, by domestic violence or other crime victims.”
- Working with PHAs to Adopt Policies that Affirmatively Further Fair Housing: An Advocacy Guide and Toolkit for Local Advocates (July 2021) This advocacy guide published by NHLP and the Poverty & Race Research Action Council (PRRAC) outlines how the obligation to affirmatively further fair housing (AFFH) applies to public housing authorities (PHAs) how California advocates can advocate for their PHA to implement this obligation. The accompanying toolkit provides advocates with subject-area checklists for evaluating and commenting on PHA planning and policy documents regarding PHA policies that directly impact clients.
- Public Housing Authorities and the New California AFFH Law: How to Spot Key Fair Housing Issues and Set Goals (July 2021) This guide, published by NHLP and the Poverty & Race Research Action Council (PRRAC), equips California public housing authorities (PHAs) with information about California’s affirmatively furthering fair housing (AFFH) law and strategies for aligning their policies and practices with the obligation to AFFH. PHAs can use this resource to better understand the landscape of federal and state fair housing law, as well as to identify fair housing concerns in their policies and planning documents.
- AFFH Glossary (2016) This resource defines several key terms related to the AFFH rule.
- The Assessment of Fair Housing Process: Getting Involved (2017) This resource provides a series of considerations for advocates to think about as they prepare to engage in the AFH process.
- Brochure: Opportunity & Your Community: The Assessment of Fair Housing (2017) This resource is designed for legal services and other advocates to use in educating resident stakeholders about the Assessment of Fair Housing. There is room on the brochure for local organizations to include their logo and contact information.
Trainings and Webinars
- Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing, Part I: An Overview for Advocates (April 2016) This presentation provides a basic overview of the legal framework concerning the duty to affirmatively further fair housing, an overview of the AFFH final regulation, and an introduction to the AFH Assessment Tool. Additionally, this presentation also introduces the AFFH rule’s community participation requirements.
- Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing, Part II: The Assessment Tool, HUD Data, and Community Participation (July 2016) This presentation examines the AFH Assessment Tool for Local Governments (issued in December 2015) in-depth; provides an overview of the AFFH Data and Mapping Tool; and builds upon Part I’s discussion of community participation by detailing the community participation and consultation requirements under the AFFH rule.
- Language Access and Housing (May 2016) This presentation for the National Language Access Advocates Network (N-LAAN) includes a discussion of how the AFFH rule can be used as a tool for advocacy on behalf of limited English proficient (LEP) populations. This presentation identifies the HUD-provided maps and data concerning LEP populations.
- Exploring Frameworks for Building Broad-Based Equitable Remedies for Systemic Injustices (July 2016) This presentation comprised part of a broader panel at the 2016 National Legal Aid & Defender Association Litigation and Advocacy Leaders Conference. The discussion outlined in this PowerPoint centered on how the AFH provides a new opportunity for cross-sector approaches to addressing policies and practices that perpetuate systemic inequities.