HUD to Withdraw AFFH Local Government Assessment of Fair Housing (AFH) Tool

Moments ago, in an email from HUD Exchange, HUD announced that it plans to withdraw the assessment tool for local governments. According to HUD, “the current iteration of the Tools is substantively deficient and unduly burdensome because it resulted in great expense to program participants and HUD, yet it is not adequately guiding participants through the creation of acceptable Assessments of Fair Housing (AFHs).” Local governments must still comply with their obligation to affirmatively further fair housing.

HUD has posted pre-publication copies of three notices:

  1. Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing: Withdrawal of the Assessment Tool for Local Governments – This notice withdraws the current local government assessment tool because it is “substantively deficient and unduly burdensome”;
  2. Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing: Withdrawal of Notice Extending the Deadline for Submission of Assessment of Fair Housing for Consolidated Plan Participants – This notice withdraws the previous notice (published on Jan. 5, 2018; 83 Federal Register 683) which extended the submission deadline for AFHs; and
  3. Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH): Responsibility to Conduct Analysis of Impediments – This notice notes that local governments still have an obligation to affirmatively further fair housing and must conduct an Analysis of Impediments (AI).

The email notes that applicable program participants should update their AIs in accordance with the HUD Fair Housing Guide.

NAHRO will keep our members informed as we learn additional details.

HUD Publishes Study on Racial and Ethnic Differences in Housing Search

Yesterday, HUD published a study titled “Racial and Ethnic Differences in Housing Search: Final Report.” The study seeks to answer four research questions:

  1. How do people search for rental housing?
  2. How do housing searches differ by race and ethnicity?
  3. What are the consequences of these differences for relative housing outcomes?
  4. What are the implications for future research?

To answer these questions, the study used a mixed-method approach. Researchers fielded telephone interviews with a sample of 135 recent movers and 351 current searchers in the Washington, D.C. area. A subsample of 40 respondents were given a face-to-face interview. Finally, researchers also utilized three large datasets–the Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID), the America Housing Survey (AHS), and the Chicago Area Study (CAS)–to provide “statistically rigorous tests of racial or ethnic differences on a limited set of variables.”

While all the findings of the study are outside the scope of this short blog post, here are a few of the findings:

  • When asked about barriers while searching for housing, renters stated poor credit history, lack of a security deposit, and not having transportation to get to a units;
  • Most searchers said that both a unit and its neighborhood were equally important;
  • Renters use their social networks to find vacancies and learn about them;
  • Searchers tend to prioritize building security, landlord responsiveness, and rent; Safety and transportation are top criteria for neighborhoods;
  • Price range was a primary reason for the difficulty of a search;
  • Use of social networks is the most common information gathering method used by Black and Latino renters, and Black and Latino renters are more likely than White renters to use this method;
  • White renters are less likely to have a failed search than are Black and Latino renters;
  • Black renters report longer searches than White and Latino renters;
  • People who move for school or work are more likely to use online resources; and
  • Involuntary movers are more likely to end a search with less favorable outcomes because of constrained alternatives.

There is much more in the full report, which NAHRO staff has only begun to read.

The full study can be found here.

CBPP and PRRAC Publish Small Area FMR Implementation Guide

Recently, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities and the Poverty and Race Research Action Council published a Small Area Fair Market Rent (FMR) implementation guide titled “A Guide to Small Area Fair Market Rents (SAFMRs): How State and Local Housing Agencies Can Expand Opportunity for Families in All Metro Areas.” The guide provides background on Small Area FMRs–which are FMRs that are calculated over zip codes instead of broader metropolitan areas to incentivize the deconcentration of poverty in metropolitan areas–as well as advice to PHAs on how to effectively implement them.

For those PHAs that are already familiar with HUD’s Guidance on Small Area FMRs and HUD’s Implementing Small Area FMRs Guidebook, there are still some new ideas in this guide. For example, this guidebook notes that to protect families in low-rent zip codes, which will see a decline in FMR, a PHA may apply a portion of the reduction and then hold families harmless  after the initial reduction. A footnote helpfully explains that though this option is “not mentioned in HUD’s notice or guidebook . . . [it] is permitted by the applicable regulation. 24 C.F.R. § 982.505(c)(3)(ii) [Hyperlink added].”

The CBPP and PRRAC Small Area FMR Implementation Guide can be found here.

Groups sue HUD over AFFH

Earlier today, three groups (the National Fair Housing Alliance [NFHA], the Texas Low Income Housing Information Service, and Texas Appleseed) filed a complaint in Federal Court (the United States District Court for the District of Columbia) against HUD regarding its recent actions to extend the deadline for local governments to submit their Assessments of Fair Housing (AFHs).

The complaint states that HUD “published a three-page notice . . . suspending the key requirements of the [Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH)] rule” (HUD characterizes this action as an “Extension of Deadline for Submission of Assessment of Fair Housing for Consolidated Plan Participants“). The action caused “irreparable and ongoing injury” for the three groups suing. As a result of HUD’s action, Texas Appleseed and the Texas Low Income Housing Information Service will have to “divert [mission-critical] resources” to “remedying the effects of [HUD’s] actions.” Additionally, NFHA will have to “divert resources to assisting its members around the country . . . to combat the effects of [HUD’s] actions.”

The groups believe that HUD erred in three ways. First, “[b]y failing to engage in notice-and-comment rulemaking before delaying and altering the AFFH Rule, HUD failed to observe procedures required by law, in contravention of the [Administrative Procedure Act].” Second, “HUD’s delay of the Rule is arbitrary, capricious, or an abuse of discretion, in contravention of the [Administrative Procedure Act]” because HUD’s rationale for extending the deadline (inadequate technical assistance among other reasons) does not explain why HUD cannot improve its technical assistance or why it is acceptable to go back to the previous regulatory framework (i.e., the Analysis of Impediments). Third, “HUD’s effective suspension of the AFFH Rule violates the Fair Housing Act, in contravention of the [Administrative Procedure Act].” Here, the complaint states that HUD is violating its own “affirmative obligation under the Fair Housing Act to ensure that federal housing programs are administered, and federal housing funds spent, in a manner that furthers fair housing.”

The complaint asks that the Court do five things. First, enter a declaratory judgment that HUD’s action is “arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion or contrary to law, and without observance of procedure required by law.” Second, issue preliminary and permanent injunctions requiring HUD to suspend its notice extending the deadline for submission of AFHs for local governments and implement and enforce the requirements of the AFFH rule moving forward. Third, direct HUD to take affirmative steps to remedy the harms caused by the extension. Fourth, award the groups attorney’s fees and costs. Fifth, award any other relief that may be “just and equitable.”

The full complaint can be found here.

HUD Publishes New AFFH FAQ

On Friday, HUD sent an email announcing a new list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) that responds to the new notice delaying the submission date for the local government Assessment of Fair Housing (AFH). HUD “strongly encourages program participants to visit [the FAQ].” The new notice can be found on the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) HUD Exchange webpage.

The FAQ can be found here.

HUD Extends AFH Deadline for Local Governments

Tomorrow, HUD will publish a notice in the Federal Register titled “Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing: Extension of Deadline for Submission of Assessment of Fair Housing for Consolidated Plan Participants.” The notice states that for local government consolidated plan participants, the deadline for submitting their Assessment of Fair Housing (AFH) will be extended to the next AFH submission date after October 31, 2020. Although the notice will be effective immediately after publication in the Federal Register, HUD is inviting public comment for 60 days on the extension. [1/5/18 Edit – Comments are due by March 6, 2018.]

The notice extends the deadline for submission of an AFH to all local government consolidated plan program participants to the AFH submission deadline after October 31, 2020. Local governments that qualified for a previous extension under a October 24, 2016 notice are also covered under this extension. All local government program participants must still comply with the statutory obligation of affirmatively furthering fair housing.

Until a consolidated plan program participant is required to submit an AFH, it will continue to provide the AFFH Consolidated plan certification in accordance with requirements that existed prior to August 17, 2015. These requirements obligated a program participant to certify that it would affirmatively further fair housing by conducting an Analysis of Impediments (AI) to fair housing choice within the jurisdiction and take action to overcome the effects of the identified impediments.

For program participants starting a new 3 to 5 year consolidated plan cycle, the AI should continue to be updated until those consolidated plan program participants submit an AFH after October 31, 2020. Program participants that have already submitted an AFH which has been accepted by HUD must continue to execute the goals of that AFH (they are not required to perform an additional AI). Program participants that received a non-accept decision should not submit their revised AFHs. HUD will discontinue the review of AFHs currently under review and will not render an accept, deemed accepted, or non-accept determination.

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HUD Study Finds Small Area FMRs Have Mixed Results

Last week, HUD published a report titled “Small Area Fair Market Rent Demonstration Evaluation: Interim Report,” which provides preliminary findings from HUD’s Small Area Fair Market Rent (FMR) Demonstration. The Small Area FMR Demonstration is a Demonstration of seven PHAs that have implemented Small Area FMRs in a variety of housing markets to test their effectiveness. The potential adverse impacts to Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) program participants that this report identifies is one of the reasons that HUD suspended implementation of mandatory Small Area FMRs.

While NAHRO is still in the process of reading through and analyzing the report, the key takeaways from it on the imposition of Small Area FMRs are the following: different housing markets are impacted differently; there are more families moving into areas of opportunity; there is a loss of affordable units; and there is an aggregate higher cost burden for families.

The evaluation looks at the effects of Small Area FMRs on 1) potential access to opportunity; 2) actual access to opportunity; and 3) costs and rents. Additionally, the study looks at costs to PHAs. Click below for a brief summary of the evaluation findings.

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HUD Extends Section 3 “Past Due” Reporting Deadline to December 31, 2017

HUD has revised the July 7, 2017 SPEARS Update that set a reporting deadline of July 31, 2017 for “past due” (2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, & some 2017 report years) reports.

On August 14, 2017, HUD issued a SPEARS Update that extended the reporting deadline for “past due” reports to December 31, 2017. The SPEARS Update is available at https://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/documents/huddoc?id=PHAReportDue8-14-17.pdf.

HUD’s Section 3 office is also aware of issues in submitting adjusted reports (6, 9, or 15 month reports) due to the reporting year switching to the PHA fiscal year. It is anticipated that HUD will update the SPEARS system to correct this issue in the very near future.

More information on Section 3 reporting is available at https://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/HUD?src=/program_offices/fair_housing_equal_opp/section3/section3/spears.

HUD Announces $38 Million for Fair Housing Grants

In a press release on Wednesday, HUD announced that it was making $38 million available in fair housing grants to fight housing discrimination. The grants are a part of the Fair Housing Initiatives Program (FHIP), which provides funding to non-profits and other fair housing organizations to help people who have encountered housing discrimination. The due date for these notices of funding availability is September 18, 2017. The grants announced are listed below.

  • Education and Outreach Initiative grants (EOI) – grants for organizations that educate the public about their rights under federal law and other organizations that enforce certain local fair housing laws. $7,450,000 available by searching FR-6100-N-21-A on Grants.gov.
  • Fair Housing Organizations Initiative (FHOI) – grants to build “the capacity and effectiveness of non-profit fair housing organizations.” $500,000 available by searching FR-6100-N-21B on Grants.gov.
  • Private Enforcement Initiative grants –  grants for organizations that “conduct intake, testing, investigation and litigation of fair housing complaints.” $30.35 million available by searching FR-6100-N-21C on Grants.gov.

The entire press release can be read here.

Reasonable Accommodation e-Briefing on August 10 at 1:30pm ET

On August 10 at 1:30pm, NAHRO Professional Development will present an e-Briefing on Reasonable Accommodation. NAHRO Faculty Member Dennis Morgan will answer many of questions – What is a “reasonable accommodation?” What are your responsibilities as a housing provider? What if a request would creat an undue financial burden, or fundamentally alter the nature of a program?

Reminder: Whether you're watching alone or with an audience of 100, only one registration per connected device is required, making NAHRO Professional Development's e-Briefings an outstanding value!

Register Online at www.nahro.org/training-calendar.