Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing

The Fair Housing Act has two goals: to end housing discrimination and to promote diverse, inclusive communities. The second goal is referred to as Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH), and it embodies our strongly-held American values of fair access and equal opportunity.

Diverse, inclusive communities with access to good jobs, schools, health care, transportation, and housing are crucial to our nation’s prosperity in the 21st century. A hard-learned lesson from the recent economic crisis is that when some of our communities are targeted for discriminatory practices, all of our communities are harmed. Our global competitiveness is challenged when all of our communities do not have the opportunity to succeed together.

Proposed AFFH Regulation

On Friday, July 19, 2013, the US Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD), the federal agency charged with writing the rules for the Fair Housing Act, issued a proposed new regulation to implement the affirmatively furthering fair housing requirements of the Fair Housing Act. Through the new rule, HUD proposes to provide its program participants (states, counties, municipalities and public housing agencies) with more effective means to affirmatively further the purposes and policies of the Fair Housing Act, Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968.

  • Proposed AFFH regulation
  • Background information that HUD has provided
  • HUD will be providing its grantees (and the public) with data, analytical tools an dmapping tools (known as the “geospatial tool”) to help them carry out their responsibilities under the new rule. You can try HUD’s prototype of the geospatial tool.

    HUD has received nearly 1,000 comments on the proposed rule, including comments from NFHA and comments from a group of 41 national civil rights, fair housing, women’s, disability, LGBT and consumer organizations and labor unions.

    HUD’s Current AFFH Enforcement
    Recent Enforcement Actions

    In addition to writing the rules under the Fair Housing Act, HUD is also charged with enforcing them, including the AFFH obligation. In recent months, HUD investigations have found that a number of jurisdictions have fallen short in fulfilling this obligation, and HUD has taken action to remedy those situations. These jurisdictions include:

  • Aurora (IL) Housing Authority
  • Dallas, TX
  • Dubuque, IA
  • Galveston, TX
  • Jefferson Parish, LA
  • Joliet, IL
  • Houston, TX
  • Marin County, CA
  • Nebraska
  • New Jersey (Hurricane Sandy)
  • St. Bernard Parish, LA
  • Sussex County, DE
  • Westchester County, NY
    HUD Report Cards

    During the first term of the Obama Administration, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development reaffirmed a broad commitment to fair housing. The Poverty and Race Research Action Council (PRRAC) reviewed these efforts at HUD and has published its findings in a two-part report card, Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing at HUD: A First Term Report Card. The first part evaluates HUD’s efforts to reform its own programs. The second part, which was written in conjunction with NFHA and the Lawyers’s Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, examines HUD’s enforcement of the requirements for its grantees to affirmatively further fair housing.

    AFFH-related Court Cases

    The courts also play an important role in enforcement of the Fair Housing Act. Several court cases have been particularly important in affirming that tackling segregation was an integral part of Congress’ intent in enacting the Fair Housing Act and that HUD has both the authority and the responsibility to address this in administering its programs.

    Key cases include:

  • Antidiscrimination Center of Metro New York, Inc., Plaintiff, -v- Westchester County, New York, Defendant.
  • N.A.A.C.P., Boston Chapter, Plaintiff, Appellant, v. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, et al., Defendants, Appellees.
  • Otero et al., Plaintiffs-Appellees, v. New York City Housing Authority et al., Defendants-Appellants.
    Population Trends/Residential Patterns

    Information about population trends in the U.S. that is useful for understanding residential segregation and how it affects access to opportunity is available from many sources.

    Among these are:

  • The Racial Dot Map, based on 2010 Census data and created by Dustin Cable at the Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service at the University of Virginia
  • Eric Fischer’s dot maps of population and race in the U.S., for 2000 and 2010
  • Daniel Denvir’s maps for of the 10 most segregated urban areas in the U.S.
  • Project US2010, directed by Brown University sociologist John Logan, which provides maps, data and research examining recent changes in American society
  • The Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity at Ohio State University, which pioneered the concept of opportunity mapping, a tool for identifying, building understanding of, and eliminating racialized structural barriers to opportunity in critical domains including equitable and sustainable communities, criminal justice, education, health and health care in order to build opportunity-rich neighborhoods
  • The Urban Institute’s MicroTrends Blog, which looks at the changes and challenges facing metropolitan America, including those related to segregation and access to opportunity
  • The Equality of Opportunity Project—whose researchers are economists at Harvard University, UC Berkeley and the U.S. Treasury Department—provides data, research and maps looking at economic mobility in America, over time and across geographic areas.

    AFFH in the Popular Media

  • ProPublica’s “Living Apart: How the Government Betrayed a Landmark Civil Rights Law,” by Nikole Hannah-Jones, explores the politics and history of the Fair Housing Act and its goal of ending segregation. This article is part of the ProPublica series “Segregation Now: Investigating America’s Racial Divide.”
  • This American Life #512, “House Rules,” November 22, 2013: “Where you live is important. It can dictate the quality of schools and hospitals, as well as things like cancer rates, unemployment, or whether the city repairs roads in your neighborhood. On this show, stories about destiny by address.” (featuring ProPublica reporter Nikole Hannah-Jones)
  • Housing First” is a year-long special reporting project by NPR “explor[ing] why it’s so difficult for Americans with special needs to find good housing — and how the lack of housing often stymies their efforts to join, and flourish in, the mainstream of society.”
  • The Atlantic’s CityLab (formerly The Atlantic’s Cities) explores the most innovative ideas and pressing issues facing today’s global cities and neighborhoods.
  • The New York Times article “In Climbing Income Ladder, Location Matters” reports on a study finding that the odds of rising to another income level are notably low in cities such as Atlanta and Charlotte and much higher in New York and Boston.
    Other Resources

    A number of other websites offer useful information related to affirmatively furthering fair housing.

    Among these are:

  • The Opportunity Agenda
  • Poverty & Race Research Action Council (PRRAC)
  • The National Coalition on School Diversity
  • Equity Matters
  • Place Matters

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