HUD unveils new rule to replace 2015 AFFH rule
On July 23, HUD announced plans to ultimately terminate the 2015 version of the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) rule, while proposing a new final rule titled “Preserving Community and Neighborhood Choice.” The new final rule includes a detailed history of the expansion of the AFFH concept and details concerns with the 2015 rule. According to HUD, the AFFH rule is, among other things, overly burdensome, costly, and ineffective. However, several senators argued against HUD’s originally proposed replacement (covered by InfoBytes here), contending that the proposed rule would reverse efforts to make access to housing fair and equitable and “relies on the faulty premise that simply increasing housing supply can address the problems of housing discrimination and segregation.” HUD stated that after reviewing comments on the proposed changes, the agency ultimately determined them to be “unworkable and ultimately a waste of time for localities to comply with,” and noted that it had instead established programs to bring capital into underserved communities where affordable housing is present but opportunities are not. The new final rule broadly defines “fair housing” to be “housing that, among other attributes, is affordable, safe, decent, free of unlawful discrimination, and accessible under civil rights laws,” and defines “affirmatively furthering fair housing” as “any action rationally related to promoting” any of the attributes of fair housing. Specifically, a grantee’s certification that it has affirmatively furthered fair housing would be deemed sufficient provided it proposed taking action to further fair housing policy during the relevant period. The new final rule will become effective 30 days after publication in the Federal Register.