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By: Damon Y. Smith
Ever since the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) suspended certain reporting requirements of the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) rule for local governments in 2018, cities and affordable housing developers and lenders have awaited their proposed replacement. After a year of review and revisions, HUD recently released a newly proposed AFFH rule. The proposed regulation re-defines AFFH and makes substantial changes to the metrics for compliance.
The Department’s new definition of AFFH is “advancing fair housing choice within the program participant’s control or influence.” However, the headline change for most program participants (state and local government and public housing agencies) is that they will no longer have to use a HUD-prescribed computer assessment tool to determine their compliance with AFFH. That tool required program participants to answer questions about segregation levels and patterns in their communities and impediments to changing those patterns in the future. Instead, the proposed rule has adopted three metrics to determine if a participating jurisdiction is (1) free of fair housing claims; (2) has adequate supply of affordable housing and (3) has adequate quality in that supply of affordable housing. These metrics dovetail with the Department’s new definition of AFFH because “fair housing choice” is further defined to include choice that is (1) free of fair housing discrimination, (2) actual in fact, due to existence of informed affordable housing options and (3) capable of providing access to quality affordable housing that is decent, safe and sanitary.
Comments on this new rule are due on March 16, 2020.