2023 Fair Housing Month: Activities and Resources

April is Fair Housing Month!

Idaho Fair Housing Forum members are gearing up for April, and we’d like to share a few activities and resources below with our partners and community stakeholders. While fair housing and related laws apply every day, each year we join with others to draw attention to the rights, responsibilities and economic benefits of housing choice and equity.

States and communities that receive federal funds—particularly from HUD—are required to Affirmatively Further Fair Housing (AFFH) in several ways. The AFFH requirements include, “taking meaningful actions, in addition to combating discrimination, that overcome patterns of segregation and foster inclusive communities free from barriers that restrict access to opportunity based on protected characteristics.”

Meaningful actions accomplish two key outcomes:

  • more fair housing choice
  • reducing disparities in access to opportunity

Forum partners typically pursue these outcomes through partnerships that increase awareness of fair housing law through conferences, sponsored training opportunities, and outreach materials. HUD program administrators must also demonstrate concrete steps taken to ensure that subrecipients of HUD funds are pursuing AFFH practices that support equity in programs, activities, resources and facilities.

In the case of Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds at the state level, Idaho Commerce requires the following AFFH actions of all sub recipients

  • Designate a Fair Housing Resource Person
  • Adopt and publish a Fair Housing Resolution
  • Proclaim April as Fair Housing Month
  • Display Fair Housing Information
  • Fair Housing Assessment Form

Activities

Fair Housing Accessibility First! training events

Date Topic Session 1 Session 2 Registration
02/28/23 Kitchens 8–9:30am 12–1:30pm Register
03/14/23 Grab Bars 8–9:30am 12-1:30pm Register
03/21/23 Usable Doors 8–9:30am 12-1:30pm Register
04/04/23 Controls in Accessible 8–9:30am 12-1:30pm Register

All times are Mountain. Contact  to schedule training.

Resources for partners and communities

Fair Housing Month Proclamations: Sample language

Free Education and Outreach Materials. IHFA produced a series of fair housing materials as part of its FHIP-EOI grant in 2020 and 2021. Print materials and videos are available at no cost on request.

Additional background and resources that help put AFFH requirements in context:

  • Segregated by Design This short film tracks the “forgotten history of how our federal, state and local governments unconstitutionally segregated every major metropolitan area in America through law and policy.”
  • Seven Days Award-winning film by Nationwide Insurance and the National Fair Housing Alliance chronicles daily events between the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King April 4, 1968 and passage of the Fair Housing Act April 11, 1968
  • House Rules This collaborative journalism project describes how where we live determines our access to essential community assets, economic opportunity and social capital. And it looks at the role and fate of George Romney, the first individual charged with implementing the Fair Housing Act.
  • 2022-2027 AI: What cities and counties should know about fair housing (pending) Broad-brush overview of important context and concepts for Idaho communities to understand, with references to the most recent Statewide Analysis of Impediments covering Idaho’s non-entitlement (balance of state) jurisdictions served by Idaho Commerce and IHFA.

AFFH Proposed Rule Published 2/9/23

HUD’s long-awaited Proposed Rule for Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) was posted in the Federal Register February 9, 2023. This starts the clock ticking for the official 60-day Public Comment period that ends April 10, 2023.

To view the Proposed Rule, click here.

What is AFFH and what does the Proposed Rule mean? The AFFH provision was part of the original Fair Housing Act (FHA) of 1968, and its obligations extend to federal agencies administering housing and urban development programs. AFFH requires funding recipients to “take meaningful actions—in addition to combating discrimination—that overcome patterns of segregation and foster inclusive communities free from barriers that restrict access to opportunity based on protected classes.


Bipartisan Policy Center Deep Dive into the AFFH Proposed Rule


However, the federal government has long been criticized for failing to enforce FHA requirements or provide participants with meaningful guidance. This has allowed discriminatory practices and harm resulting from segregation, discrimination, and disinvestment based on protected class to persist in housing transactions, zoning laws and patterns of funding.

The broad, generational impacts of persistent and pervasive housing discrimination are clearly described in the short film ‘Segregated by Design.’ It contrasts de facto segregation—separation arising accidentally or through private discrimination—from de jure segregation, racially-explicit laws that keep people apart. AFFH represents our collective obligation to remedy or reverse the consequences of the resulting ‘unconstitutional residential landscape’ that has disadvantaged generations of people in protected classes.

The seven protected classes include:

  • Race
  • Color
  • National origin
  • Religion
  • Sex (including gender identity and sexual orientation per the Worden Memo)
  • Familial status (families with children under 18)
  • Disability

How AFFH relates to the FHA:

  • The FHA focuses on what is prohibited: discrimination in any housing transaction or “to make unavailable or deny” housing by any means.
  • AFFH is prescriptive; it requires federal funding recipients to take proactive and “meaningful actions” to address segregation and related barriers.

The AFFH Rule proposed in 2015 was meant to give teeth to the Fair Housing Act and address criticisms. To assist program participants, HUD created the AFFH-T, where the T refers to a customized Mapping Tool to streamline the data gathering and analysis process. The rule was subsequently rescinded in 2018, re-instated in 2021, and has undergone revisions in response to public comments. The updated AFFH provision introduces a modified version of the Assessment of Fair Housing (AFH) now referred to as an Equity Plan.

The Equity Plan—similar to the AFH or Analysis of Impediments (AI)—will be required every five years. Funding recipients with a current AI will have up to three years to begin work on their Equity Plan. With some variation based on the jurisdiction, the plan seeks to define and describe the following:

  • Demographics
  • Segregation and integration
  • Racially or ethnically concentrated areas of poverty (R/ECAPs)
  • Access to community assets
  • Access to affordable housing opportunities
  • Access to homeownership and economic opportunity
  • Policies and practices impacting fair housing

The planning process requires significant community engagement and an Equity Plan will be evaluated based on its ability to advance equity in housing, community development programs, and residents’ access to well-resourced areas, opportunity, and community assets.  Participants must identify and analyze fair housing data and issues, prioritize those issues, and commit to meaningful and measurable action to undertake fair housing goals.

Failure to take AFFH seriously to create or improve access to opportunities can result in additional HUD review, remediation, and in extreme cases, loss of federal funding. This ultimately harms local taxpayers, constituents and economies, and results in the loss of federal support for housing and community development (think rental assistance or housing development and support from Idaho Commerce) that benefits Idaho families, employers, businesses and communities.

Industry observations

In response to the previous administration’s move to rescind the AFFH, the CEO of the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) expressed concern in a July 27, 2020 statement: “At a moment in our country’s history where the need to dismantle structural racism and segregation is so clear and present, HUD’s decision to terminate the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) rule represents a giant and shocking step backwards. Eliminating the AFFH rule will hurt not just renters by limiting where they can afford to live, but all of our communities and Americans who benefit from a fairer, more inclusive society.”

In a January 23rd statement from National Low-Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC) President and CEO Diane Yentel, she makes clear that “…the 2015 AFFH regulation was an important step toward rectifying decades of racist housing policies that created today’s segregated neighborhoods and resulted in associated harm to children, families, and the country… More than ever, large-scale, sustained investments and anti-racist reforms are necessary to ensure that people with the lowest incomes have quality homes that are accessible and affordable in communities of their choice.”

The National Council of State Housing Agencies (NCSHA) is also supportive of the new rule. On behalf of its members, the organization states that “…central to our overriding vision of an affordably housed nation is the goal of removing fair housing obstacles that impede anyone from accessing the affordable housing of their choice.

Additional reference materials

Fair Housing Training: Equal Access

Thursday, December 15th at 9am – 3pm

Boise City Hall

Our Path Home is honored to partner with Intermountain Fair Housing Council (IFHC) to provide an in-depth training on Fair Housing: Equal Access presented by Zoe Ann Olsen the Executive Director at the IFHC.

REGISTER HERE

During the Equal Access Training you will gain an understanding of Fair Housing Basics, Equal Access Rules, and Reasonable Accommodations/Modifications. Practical Training Scenarios and a Q&A Session will also be included to ensure a deep understanding of material. This training is recommended to anyone who owns, operates, or manages shelter and other facilities and providers of service funded by any HUD CPD program.  

In this training, you will learn about the 2016 Equal Access Rule that requires recipients of HUD’s CPD funding to grant equal access to such facilities and services in accordance with the individuals gender identity that affords equal access to individuals family. You will also partake in training scenarios, implementations of equal access rule, and be provided examples of anti-discrimination policies and HUD LGBTQ+ Homelessness Resources.

Zoe Ann Olson has been with IFHC for over a decade. She has extensive housing law experience including the Fair Housing Act (FHA), Idaho State housing law, reasonable accommodations and modifications, litigation concerning the FHA, public housing cases, wrongful evictions, repairs, security deposits, mobile home park cases, foreclosures, predatory lending, etc. Beginning in 2012 she has been the lead fair housing trainer throughout Idaho.

  • Where: Maryann Jordan Council Chambers at Boise City Hall
  • When: Thursday, December 15 from 9 a.m. – 3 p.m.
  • Lunch: A taco bar lunch will be provided

REGISTER HERE

 

NIMBY, Equity and Liability for Communities

NIMBY Equity and Liability: Why Planners Need to Understand Fair Housing Law

During the October, 2022 APA Idaho Conference in Boise, Approximately 60 planning professionals heard from experts Erin Anderson (Director, The Housing Company) and Don Elliott, FAICP, J.D. (Director, Clarion Associates) on the impacts of growing NIMBY opposition to residential development that is affordable and/or serves diverse populations. The session references findings and comments from the most recent 2022 Analysis of Impediments to Fair Housing, and provides examples of barriers to fair housing choice and best practices in planning to reduce violations and liability. The session was moderated by Erik Kingston, PCED (Housing Resources Coordinator, IHFA).

Session Description. Housing availability and affordability are top of mind for every community. As local government seeks to cultivate housing diversity and choice, persistent local opposition to multifamily housing, density or diversity poses both a barrier and liability. The Fair Housing Act defines an “aggrieved person” as “any person who . . . claims to have been injured by a discriminatory housing practice,” and the Act expressly protects the rights of housing developers—as well as minorities, families or people with disabilities.

When developers of otherwise conforming subsidized projects are consistently denied permits because of neighborhood pushback, local governments may be liable. NIMBY can drive emotionally charged short-term thinking about what should be long-term planning and development strategies. This panel of fair housing, planning and legal experts will explore existing case law and invite participants to a discussion of practical civic engagement strategies to stay focused on planning principles and long-term community benefits.

Watch the session video (Courtesy, APA Idaho Chapter)