HUD’s Idaho Fair Housing and Virtual Training

Idaho Fair Housing Forum partners welcomed key personnel from HUD’s Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity Office for a virtual FHEO training on Thursday, August 10, 2023. The event was well-attended, with over 230 Participants from Idaho and the surrounding regions. If a recording is made available, a link will be posted below.

Screen grab from a Microsoft Teams screen. In the top half of the screen a smiling woman wearing glasses is speaking. The lower section shows a man with short hair and glasses and is wearing a headset. To the right are small circles representing attendees.

Opening remarks by Lynn Grosso, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Enforcement and Brian Dale, PCED, HUD Field Office Director for Idaho

Agenda

  • Opening Remarks – Brian Dale, FOD; Barbara Lehman, Region X FHEO Director; Lynn Grosso, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Enforcement
  • HUD FHEO’s Intake Process – Michael Chen, HUD FHEO
  • HUD FHEO’s Investigation Process – Breanne Lee, HUD FHEO
  • HUD FHEO and VAWA/C Revs – James Kordich, HUD FHEO
  • Q & A – FHEO Staff Presenters
  • Closing Remarks – Lynn Grosso, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Enforcement (tentative), Barbara Lehman, Region X FHEO Director

Resources and links

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

Language Access Plan and the AFHMP

Courtesy of Gary Hanes, founding member of the Idaho Fair Housing Forum and Managing Member of Gary E. Hanes & Associates, LLC

“HUD has recently issued information bearing on the Language Access Plan (LAP) and the Affirmative Fair Housing Marketing Plan (AFHMP) and how they relate to one another. In the attachment below, we explore this a little further in hopes that it will help assisted housing providers navigate between these two complementary plans and meet the language access obligations of both.”

LANGUAGE ACCESS PLAN AND THE AFFIRMATIVE FAIR HOUSING MARKETING PLAN

November 17 Forum Meeting, Fair Housing Basics

The first official monthly meeting of the Idaho Fair Housing Forum was hosted by IHFA and featured a training on Fair Housing Basics by attorney Brian Stephens with the Intermountain Fair Housing Council. See links below for a link to this and similar presentations on Fair Housing Basics.

Each regular monthly meeting highlights a training on a topic selected by participants in advance. Quarterly meetings are more open-ended opportunities for conversation and discussion of fair housing trends, challenges and related issues.