HUD Offers New Tools for Fair Housing Compliance

by devteam July 10th, 2015 | Share

The Department of Housing and Urban Developmentrn(HUD) has announced a final rule to help communities that receive HUD funds meetrntheir fair housing obligations in their use. rnWhile the HUD rule has been under consideration for several years, therntiming is propitious. It comes in the wake of the recent Supreme Court decisionrnin Texas Department of Housing andrnCommunity Affairs v. The Inclusive Communities Project in which the Courtrnruled that plaintiffs do not have to prove intent in pursuing claims under thernFair Housing Act, merely that an action has a “disparate impact” on a protectedrngroup.  The suit was originally broughtrnagainst a government agency in charge of allocating affordable housing taxrncredits.</p

The final HUD rule aims to provide all HUDrnprogram participants with clear guidelines and data they can use to achieve fairrnhousing goals.  It was developed inrnresponse to the recommendations of a 2010 Government Accountability Officernreport as well as requests from stakeholders and HUD program participants forrnclearer guidance, more technical assistance, better compliance and morernmeaningful outcomes.  It also incorporates feedback from what HUD terms “significant”rninput during the public comment phase. </p

Key features of the final rule include:</p<ul class="unIndentedList"<liClarification of existing fair housing obligations. </li</ul<ul class="unIndentedList"<liPublicly open datarnon fair housing and access to opportunity. HUD will provide publicly open data and mapping tools tornaid community members and local leaders in setting local fair housing priorities and goals.</li</ul<ul

  •  A balanced approach to fair housing. Communities will bernenabled to use local knowledge and decision making to determine the bestrnstrategies for meeting their obligations. This includes facilitating the ability tornmake place-based investments to revitalize distressed areas and obtainingrninformation through community participation. </li</ul<ul class="unIndentedList"</ul<ul
  •  Customized toolsrnfor local leaders.rnRecognizing that one size does not fit all grantees,rnHUD will be providing fair housingrnassessment tools specific to local jurisdictions, public housing authorities (PHAs), and states and Insular Areas.</li</ul<ul class="unIndentedList"</ul<ul
  •  Collaboration is encouraged. Many fair housing priorities transcend a grantee’s boundaries. The final rulernencourages grantees to collaborate on fair housingrnassessments to advance regional fair housing priorities and goals.</li</ul<ul class="unIndentedList"</ul<ul
  •  A phased-inrnapproach.rnThe final rule provides for additional time for communities to adopt this improved process forrnsetting local fair housing priorities than originallyrnproposed and more additional time will be provided for small grantees andrnrecent regional collaborations.</li</ul<ul class="unIndentedList"</ul

    In announcingrnthe new rule HUD Secretary Julián Castro said, “As a former mayor, I knowrnfirsthand that strong communities are vital to the well-being and prosperity ofrnfamilies.  Unfortunately, too manyrnAmericans find their dreams limited by where they come from, and a ZIP codernshould never determine a child’s future.  This important step will givernlocal leaders the tools they need to provide all Americans with access to safe,rnaffordable housing in communities that are rich with opportunity.”</p

    The Center for ResponsiblernLending praised the new rule.  Its executivernvice president Nikitra Bailey said that when people live in communities of opportunity theyrnare more likely to prosper and when they don’t they often end up paying morernfor mortgages and basic financial services which cripples their ability to save,rnbuild wealth, and drains money that could be used to help them climb therneconomic ladder.  “Today’s rule will helprnaddress a legacy of racial segregation tied to housing patterns that continuernto contribute to growing economic inequality.  Coupled with the historicrnSupreme Court decision on disparate impact from just weeks ago, this is arnhopeful sign for equality and justice in a housing sector that includes peoplernof color, families with children, seniors and people with disabilities.” 

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  • About the Author


    Steven A Feinberg (@CPAsteve) of Appletree Business Services LLC, is a PASBA member accountant located in Londonderry, New Hampshire.

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