Is HUD moving away from revitalizing struggling neighborhoods?

Date Published: September 2016

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HUD does not support continued disinvestment in racially and ethnically concentrated areas of poverty. Continued disinvestment in struggling areas does not promote fair housing choice or equal access to opportunity. HUD supports a balanced approach to affirmatively furthering fair housing (AFFH). A balanced approach encourages a variety of activities that connect housing and community development policy and investment planning with meaningful actions that affirmatively further fair housing. A balanced approach includes both place-based strategies, such as revitalizing impacted neighborhoods, and mobility strategies, as appropriate depending on local context. While HUD is not prescriptive in the actions required to affirmatively further fair housing, program participants are required to take meaningful actions to overcome historic patterns of segregation, promote fair housing choice, and foster inclusive communities free from discrimination. For the purposes of the rule, meaningful actions means significant actions that are designed and can be reasonably expected to achieve a material positive change that affirmatively furthers fair housing by, for example, increasing fair housing choice or decreasing disparities in access to opportunity.

Place-based and mobility strategies need not be mutually exclusive. For instance, an Assessment of Fair Housing (AFH) could conclude that additional affordable housing is needed in higher opportunity areas and thus new construction should be incentivized in those places. At the same time, while such efforts are being implemented, preserving the existing affordable rental stock can also still be a priority based on the fair housing issues identified in the AFH, which may include the disproportionate housing needs analysis in the AFH or the need to avoid displacement of assisted residents from areas that may be experiencing economic improvement.

There could be issues with strategies that do not take a balanced approach. For example, strategies that rely solely on investment in areas with high racial or ethnic concentrations of low-income residents to the exclusion of providing access to affordable housing outside of those areas or, in areas with a history of segregation, if a program participant has the ability to create opportunities outside of the segregated, low-income areas but declines to do so in favor of place-based strategies, there could be a legitimate claim that HUD and its program participants were acting to preclude a choice of neighborhoods to historically segregated groups, as well as failing to affirmatively further fair housing as required by the Fair Housing Act. Place-based and mobility strategies need not be mutually exclusive; program participants have latitude to adjust their goals, priorities, and strategies in the local decision making process based on the information, data, and analysis in the AFH, so long as the goals, priorities, strategies, and actions affirmatively further fair housing.

For discussion on a balanced approach to affirmatively furthering fair housing in the federal register publication of the AFFH Rule (see 80 FR 422279). Additionally, refer to Sections 2 and 2.1 of the AFFH Rule Guidebook.

Tags: AFFH Implementing the AFFH Rule

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