As rental prices soar and gentrification encroaches ethnic enclaves, the importance of fair housing to equality is clearer than ever. Neighborhoods are key determinants of education and job opportunities, as well as quality of life and safety for their residents. With this in mind, on July 16th, HUD published a rule to more effectively meet the Fair Housing Act’s requirement to “affirmatively further fair housing” (AFFH). According to the new AFFH law: “Affirmatively furthering fair housing means 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 …”
The new AFFH Law was proposed because the existing Fair Housing Act of 1968 suffered from limitations such as lack of public participation, no prescribed system of renewal, and no regulatory guidance, which rendered it ineffective.
Under this new law, the old Analysis of Impediments (AI) has been replaced with a standardized Assessment of Fair Housing (AFH) which must be completed every five years. An accepted AFH is required for approval of Consolidated Plans and Public Housing Agency Plans, and all Consolidated Plans, Annual Action Plans, and PHA Plans are required to include methods of promoting fair housing consistent with the goals in the accepted AFH. HUD is assisting all participating programs to meet these stricter guidelines by providing the AFFH Data and Mapping Tool, which will guide programs in their planning, although program participants must also provide local data and knowledge from community participation to grow this tool.
Though published last year (2015), the new AFFH law will not be nationally implemented until 2020. However, by October 2016, Philadelphia is set to submit a plan to meet these new standards, making it the first city to do so. The implementation of this plan will yield meaningful data about the state of housing in our city and is the first step towards deconstructing housing discrimination and segregation in Philadelphia.
These new standards in particular feature a new Assessment Tool
A detailed overview of the final regulations for AFFH is provided by at http://nlihc.org/sites/default/files/Factsheet_AFFH.pdf .